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Ovechkin's parents congratulate son for scoring 600th NHL goal

Mom, dad take pride in Capitals forward's accomplishments, look toward future

by Mikhail and Tatyana Nikolaevna / Special to NHL.com/ru

The below letter was penned in an exclusive for NHL.com/ru. Alex Ovechkin's parents, Mikhail and Tatyana Nikolaevna, congratulated their son on becoming the newest and 20th member of the NHL's 600-goal club. It was translated from its original Russian text.

Our dear son!

What does this number mean for us -- 600 goals? It's great. You have played really well, Sasha. You are a real man. And a great athlete. It's nice that you make everyone so happy. We too are very happy with your game.

But even we have lost count. Didn't we just recently celebrate your 500th goal? So, you have scored this many in a year? Or has it been two? Ok, sure, it's been two seasons. It's amazing how quickly time flies.

 

[RELATED: Ovechkin scores 600th NHL goal for Capitals | Ovechkin's road to 600 goals]

 

Your 600 goals are a great joy. The NHL is not a competition for middle schoolers, but the best league in the world. We are all so happy for you. Our whole big family, all our relatives. This pride is for our son, and for Russia. After all, no other player from the Motherland has even scored 500. But you, we think, you will go down in history for the next 40-50 years. This achievement will be very difficult to beat. But God knows how life will turn out. That's why all these records exist in the first place -- to be beaten.

You know, son, for us every one of your goals is a favorite one. It's too difficult to choose just one. But there are a few goals that we especially like. Firstly, the ones you scored against Montreal. When you had your nose broken and scored four, remember? It took real character to continue playing with blood streaming down your face. Those were great, powerful goals.

Video: WPG@WSH: Ovechkin nets rebound for 600th NHL goal

We also remember how you scored against the Rangers in the playoffs, back when Sergei Fedorov was still playing for Washington. You had two in one of those games, both beautiful goals! We collect all your goals, record and store them. And we appreciate them not just because they are spectacular, but because they take a lot of hard work to score.

Mom especially likes it when you score on her birthday, on March 19. More often than not there is a game that day -- either a Capitals game or a game your mom has to coach. Mom always asks that they never congratulate her ahead of time; she considers it a bad omen. She even insists: "Only after the game!" And when you score a goal, it's the best gift she can receive.

So now we are sitting in the stands, watching hockey. We see how you are being checked not by one, but by two players. They are literally hanging on your shoulders. It is so difficult to get anything done offensively when this happens. We get very upset when there's criticism -- how come Ovechkin did not score? Have these people ever tried themselves to create offense in these conditions? And keep this in mind: If Sasha is checked by two opponents, then someone from the Capitals has to be all by himself. He can score. This is what they call working for your team.

When we come to Washington, dad collects all the posters with your image, all the souvenirs that are associated with your career in the NHL. At our dacha (summer residence) in Russia we have a big museum for all these things, which to us is real history. God willing, someday we will have grandchildren, and we will have a lot to show them. Something that will be passed in our family from generation to generation.

We will soon come to Washington again for two or three months. Soon enough we will get on a plane and will cheer the Capitals in the playoffs. We will be staying there until the victorious end. Washington fans have been recognizing dad for a while now. Whenever he goes outside for a cigarette during intermissions, he always stands near the same column just outside Capital One Arena. People always approach, congratulate him, shake hands, ask questions about his son. Some people even mistake him for Boris Yeltsin. They say he looks like him.

Video: #NHLMilestones: Ovechkin tallies his 600th goal

Dad laughs and says, "I am the third-most important person in America. Sasha is the first, the U.S. president is the second and I'm the third." Everyone asks for a photo or an autograph. Even police officers who oversee security at the arena come by to make sure everything is OK. Often the club owner Ted Leonsis invites us to join him in his luxury box. It is very flattering, we have to admit, when there is such attention from people in Washington. That's when we realize how much they love you there.

Everybody always asks if you can beat Gretzky's career goals record. How many games did Wayne play? How many years did he play in the league? As we were told, Gretzky played nearly 1,500 games in the NHL. And you haven't even played a thousand yet. There's still time!

It's hard to say whether overtaking him should be your ultimate goal. Gretzky is Gretzky. He is a legend. Of course, if you manage to pass him, the moment will be truly historical. But you're right that you do not live just for the sake of overtaking Wayne. It's imperative that you know how to have fun playing hockey. It is such an important feeling. It is what allows you to score all these goals. That's what creates that drive in you, not the need to overtake someone. Otherwise it would feel like there is a stone tied around your neck, and that is certainly not a good way of catching anyone. 

Of course, we would love for you to overtake Gretzky. Let America and Canada know that we also have a strong hockey school. Russia is a hockey country, and our son is its ambassador in the best league of the world.

We remember how you made us happy when you were a kid. You were 12 years old and you surpassed Pavel Bure's record in the Moscow championship. There was one game left and you needed three goals to do it. So you went out on the ice and scored six. You tried so hard that you made an overkill. That season you scored 59 goals for Dynamo Moscow's boys team. That's when it really hit us, how good of a player you might be able to become.

Video: Ovechkin becomes a member of the 600-goal club

We really want you to finally win the main trophy in the NHL. You guys have been working toward that dream for so long! Washington has a nice team again this season. We have this expectation year after year. What we don't want is for the media to create the unnecessary hype about it, because this added pressure doesn't help the players at all. And in general, we don't like it when they discuss you a lot. We understand that in the NHL you are always in the spotlight, and that journalists want to know everything about you. But as parents we also wish you a quieter life, without all the crazy hype around. It would be nice if the press didn't describe every step you took. Although, perhaps, this is hardly possible.

We wish you the Stanley Cup and the Olympic gold medal for full happiness. And most importantly, Sasha, is to stay healthy. If you don't, there will be no sport, no prizes and no records. You need to take care of yourself and your body. You know better than anyone that when you have your full health, you succeed in absolutely everything in life. Because we know, son, how much you are capable of. And we always believe in you.

When you play in the playoffs, people have no idea what sort of injuries you are playing with. Only afterwards there might be a photo on the internet that shows your how your entire foot is blue because of a bruise. Or a photo of you wearing a cast. Nobody really knows the real price you must pay for these goals and these victories. Hockey is a tough man's game, and when the Stanley Cup is at stake, everyone is trying so very hard and ready to do anything for it. There are no weak pass-through teams in the playoffs. Every series is a battle. 

We love our two sons alike -- both you and Misha. Once again, we wish you all the health and hope you can avoid injuries. And that the hockey god finally turns his face to Washington, so that you can have more joy in your life. And so can we. As long as the children are happy, we are happy too.

We love you very much. Hugs and kisses,

Your mom and dad

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