After seven trips, Alex Ovechkin might not circle the NHL All-Star weekend on his calendar - or use the selection as a performance barometer like a younger, less-seasoned participant might - but it's still an honor for the future Hall of Famer.
"How many days is [All-Star weekend]?" Ovechkin, who was just named the 2019 Metropolitan Division captain, asked the media crowd around him.
Three, they answered.
"In San Jose, right?" Ovechkin joked. "It's going to be fun."
Video: Alex Ovechkin Voted Metro All-Star Captain
Ovechkin received the most fan votes among players in the Metropolitan Division, earning captain for the second straight year. Fans could vote for as few as one candidate and as many as four, one per division. The event will consist of a three-game tournament, played in a three-on-three format, each team representing a division. Each squad will include 11 players from the respective division: six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies.
Ovechkin's grown used to All-Star recognition, but not tired of it. In fact, the older he gets the more appreciative he is of the fans' lasting respect for his game and leadership. Ovechkin's fellow captains - Toronto's Auston Matthews (Atlantic), Edmonton's Connor McDavid (Pacific) and Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon (Central) - are all at least 10 years younger than the Capitals and Metropolitan front man.
"To be selected in the All-Star game is a huge privilege," Ovechkin said. "It's nice to represent Washington over there … I think the fans watch the games, they want to see their favorite player over there, so it's a pretty cool thing."
"I'm kind of the old horse out there - but still getting recognized by fans," he said. "That's very important."
Ovechkin will travel to San Jose for his franchise-leading eighth All-Star weekend on Jan. 25-26. He'll get a chance to add to his franchise-leading seven goals, seven assists and 14 career points in the annual contest.
Video: Ovi voted Metro Division All-Star Captain
"He's one of those guys who gets it done every year, and [a captain selection] was kind of expected," said Brett Connolly of Ovechkin. "Everyone saw him in the playoffs last year, the way he handled himself, the way he led. He's had such a great career. It's one [award] after another and we're happy for him. It's deserving for sure."
At 33, Ovechkin is having another career year. He leads the NHL in goals (29), surging toward the top 10 all-time in the category (636) and threatening his eighth career 50-goal season. And as strong of a leader as he's been in the past, he's also stepped up even more in his 14th year.
As the Capitals weathered the absence of players like Brooks Orpik, T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson through various points of the season, Ovechkin became an even stronger voice on the ice and in the locker room. Coach Todd Reirden often praises Ovechkin's veteran presence, crediting it in part for the Capitals resilience and recent success.
The head coach took Thursday's news as another opportunity to remind Caps fans, and Washington at large, how fortunate the city is to have Ovechkin.
Video: Todd Reirden Pregame | December 27
"He's a generational player," Reirden said. "Talk about an all-timer. I don't think anyone around here takes him for granted but this is just another reminder of how fortunate we are to have someone like him in our area. He's that much older than those players and continues to get the respect he deserves from fans. They see that the effort he puts in, especially this year, has been outstanding."
"His game isn't as physical as he used to be, but the fact that he can still be successful after what he did to his body in those initial years is remarkable," Reirden said, explaining that Ovechkin's able to dominate at this stage in his career because he's refined his style to fit NHL trends. "I coached against him in those days, and I know the nightmare that he presented to defensemen. He still causes them to lose sleep [now], with his shot and speed and movement. It's amazing to see."