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Ovechkin Claims Kharlamov Trophy

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
Since the 2007-08 NHL season ended, Caps left wing Alex Ovechkin has been traveling the world and collecting hardware. A few days after the Caps were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Ovechkin went to Quebec to help Team Russia win the gold medal in the 2008 IIHF World Championship.

Shortly afterwards, he made a stop in Pittsburgh to pick up the Art Ross and Maurice Richard Trophies he won for leading the NHL in points and goals, respectively, in 2007-08.

Days later, Ovechkin was back in his native Russia where he collected a third straight Kharlamov Trophy. The Kharlamov Trophy is presented by Sovetsky Sport to the best Russian NHL player as voted by other Russian NHL players.

Ovechkin will hop the pond again this week when he heads to Thursday's NHL Awards Show in Toronto. Ovechkin is a finalist for both the Hart Trophy and the Lester Pearson Award.

Sovetsky Sports' Pavel Lysenkov wrote the following piece, and Dmitry Chesnokov passed it along to us with a few edits and a couple photos. Our since thanks to both of them.

Alex Ovechkin – the superman in shoes.
Three time Kharlamov Trophy winner received a Superman Suit and a pair of shoes for VIP receptions.
A traditional Kharlamov Trophy presentation was held on June 2 in Moscow’s Golden Palace casino. The trophy presented by Sovetsky Sport to the best Russian NHL player as voted by other Russian NHL players (similar to the Pearson Award in the NHL), went to the Washington Capitals and Team Russia forward Alex Ovechkin. Alex was also presented with a Superman suit and a pair of  shoes for official ceremonies. [The story behind this is that after Russia won the World Championship in Canada earlier this year, the entire team went to meet with the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev right after they got off the plane. It turned out that Ovechkin was wearing only flip-flops for that visit.] The day after the Kharlamov Trophy presentation, Ovechkin was scheduled to meet with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
- World Champion
- tIIHF World Championship first all-star team
- most in points in the NHL
- most goals in the NHL
- possibly the Pearson and the Hart trophy winner
- played in the NHL All-Star game in Atlanta
- 65 goals in the regular season and four more in the playoffs
- 112 points in the regular season and nine more in the playoffs
- and last, but certainly not least, a third time winner of the Kharlamov Trophy
And all that in just one season!
Alex, do you realize yourself that this is simply fantastic? That this is the feat that hasn’t been achieved and might never be repeated?
“It will be,” Ovechkin said with a smile. “Next year, when I will try to win the Stanley Cup in addition to everything else.”
These are the ambitions of Alex Ovechkin.
There are a lot of videos and posts on the Internet calling Ovechkin a superman. That’s exactly the sweater Ovechkin received to the applause of the guests at the ceremony: a blue and red jersey with a number 8 on the chest. But the most emotional moment occurred some time later, when on a giant screen a highlight reel was shown from the World Championship game in Canada. The same clip that showed Ovechkin jumping for joy singing the national anthem and screaming into the camera “We are the champions!”
“This is a great honor to receive this trophy named after such a great person,” Ovechkin said holding the Kharlamov Trophy in his hands. “This award, just like every other, I dedicate to my mother and father who raised me to be a real man. This year was very good for me both in the NHL and at the World Championship. The Kharlamov Trophy is a very honorable addition to the bouquet of awards. Next year I will try to play just as good to win the trophy again.”
“I remember Alex as a youngster, when he would practice so much to reach the highs,” Team Russia general manager Igor Tuzik said. “Alex, the time has come to reap what you sow.”
“Dear Ovechkin family!” three-time Olympic champion and Dynamo Moscow legend Vitaly Davydov said. “Dear Alex! You have people to look up to. You have your mother sitting next to you, and she is a two time Olympic champion. Therefore, I hope that in 2010 we will see you wearing the gold medal of Vancouver. You need to catch up to your parents.”
The hockey department of Sovetsky Sport also present an award of their own.
“I was lucky enough to be in the Kremlin when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev greeted the Russian National Team,” Dmitry Ponomarenko of Sovetsky Sport says. “Of course you surprised everyone when you appeared wearing flip-flops. Not long ago we were joking that you would probably wear valenki [Russian traditional winter footwear]. But not when it’s so hot! That’s why we would like to present you with a pair of shoes. The sole of the shoes has a Russian flag, just like the one you had on your skates in Quebec.”
“Wow, this is exactly my size! Forty-four,” Ovechkin is happy. “Maybe I will actually wear them when I go to meet with Putin? And then to Yuri Luzhkov [Moscow Mayor]. Moscow Mayor also invited the team.”
Afterwards, a formal press conference took place.
“I will tell you right away, that the segment Sovetsky Sport showed at the ceremony about the World Championship moved me. All those Quebec emotions came back,” Ovechkin confesses. “The golden goal by Kovalchuk. And then all of us struck by joy.”
What happened during the second intermission of that game when you trailed 4-2?
“We had to find some strong words to shake the team up. And then our coach Vyacheslav Bykov entered the dressing room and said “One for all!” And we all shouted “And all for one!” We all felt the adrenaline rushing, we had goose bumps. We were in such ecstasy that we couldn’t even wait to get back on the ice and beat the Canadians.”
What is helping you to be physical and not get lost on the North American style of hockey?
“The Dynamo Moscow hockey development program is helping me,” Ovechkin is smiling. “It’s not for nothing Dynamo’s motto is ‘Force in Motion.’ I don’t even pay attention who gets on the way. And if I get punched, so what? That’s my job.”
Tell us how you found out about the lucky dollar that the Canadians inserted into the ice at the arena in Quebec?

“We had our regular practice right before the quarter final game. As usual we all got together in the center circle to stretch. I always sit on my knees. And then I looked and saw a coin buried in the face off circle, a silver dollar. I told my friend Ilya Nikulin: 'Let’s do this: if we win in the final we will take the coin.' That’s what we did.

"Although I heard that the tournament organizers were upset when I dug the coin out with a blade of my skate and took their lucky dollar. But, as they say, no one judges the winner. Now Nikulin and I will split the coin in half and will wear it as a lucky charm. I hope it will bring us luck in Vancouver.”
What time did you fall asleep after the victory?
“I didn’t sleep at all. I only fell asleep on board of our charter on the way to Moscow. And then I spent another four days getting back to normal. I was trying to comprehend that I was a World Champion. Already in Russia I had people approach me and say: “If only you could know what was happening during that final game on Tverskaya Street [in Moscow].” When I see fans like those I understand that it wasn’t for nothing that we were getting our bodies in front of pucks.”
We know that you had a [university] exam the morning of the day Kharlamov Trophy was presented to you. [Ovechkin is a student at Russian State University of Physical Culture.]
“Yes, it was a state exam. I was extremely nervous. I was even stuttering. But I got the perfect score. I pulled a ticket with three questions about hockey: athlete nutrition, how to develop skating skills, and tactics. When I was answering the third question I talked about the tactics Team Russia employed in Quebec. I hope there were no spies from other national teams at the university!” Oveckin laughed. “Nutrition – there is nothing better than mother’s cuisine. Skating – special thanks to my first coach Vyacheslav Kirillov and other trainers. But I have a long way to go to skate like Vitaly Davydov.

"By the way, on June 7th I will present my thesis. I am going to present my research on the training cycles implemented by Dynamo Moscow, Red Army and Spartak. And then I will receive my degree.”
Who examined you? Igor Zakharkin [assistant Russian national team coach]? He is the deputy head of your faculty.

“He was not there. But when we arrived from Quebec I told Zakharkin: See you at the university!””
Are you going to go to graduate school?
“I am still thinking about it. But my parents tell me that it is necessary. I will make my decision in the near future. It will be positive more likely than not. And then I will start picking a thesis for my dissertation.”
What are your plans for the summer?

“To take a rest! I will go to Turkey again with my friends. To Kemer to be exact. The first time I went there I was 16, we went together with Nikulin and Tereshchenko [his former Dynamo Moscow teammates]. I like it so much there, that I am going to the same hotel for the third year in a row.”
Are you considering fixing your tooth during your time off?

“No way. By the way, I had another tooth chipped during the World Championships. I went to a clinic to have it lengthened.”
When was the last time millionaire Ovechkin ate at McDonald’s?

“Three days ago. I had spend nine hours on the plane to the States. So I went there to have a quick bite to eat. Fast food, so what? I am not concerned about it.”
How many bottles of champagne can be poured into the World Championship cup?
“Seven bottles.”
What champagne exactly? “Sovetskoe?” Or “Dom Perignon?”

"I didn’t even notice. But I wanted to try it so much. I tell you what, it was the best champagne I had ever tasted in my life. Dom Perignon we, hockey players, drink only from a bottle! And what was given to us in Quebec, I like!”

When Ovechkin was about to leave the casino Valery Kharlamov’s father approached Ovechkin and said: “You know, Alex, inside this very same building this casino is now occupying, there was a clubhouse that belonged to the Kommunar plant. And this is the place where I met my wife. If this building didn’t exist there would be no Valery. See how life is?”
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