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Capitals' Ovechkin eager for fresh start

by Shawn Roarke

LAS VEGAS -- Things have changed drastically for Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin.

Since the 2013-14 season ended, his team has fired its coach, Adam Oates, and its general manager, George McPhee, the only manager Ovechkin has known during his NHL career.

McPhee has been replaced by Brian MacLellan, who had served as an assistant to McPhee for the past seven years. Oates was replaced by Barry Trotz, the longtime coach of the Nashville Predators.

Alex Ovechkin
Right Wing - WSH
GOALS: 51 | ASST: 28 | PTS: 79
SOG: 386 | +/-: -35
Ovechkin says he is curious how things will play out and he knows the organization has made a huge commitment to get the team back to being a Stanley Cup contender.

"The whole organization made a big step by firing George, firing Adam," Ovechkin said Monday during media availability for the 2014 NHL Awards. "The organization wants to make improvements. Thank God they don't fire me yet. I'm still here with a Capitals jersey. We'll see.

"It's going to be new season and a brand new day for me. New coach, new GM and we'll see what is going happen with the team and the system. It's going to be an interesting year."

Ovechkin also said he sat down with Trotz for the first time last week. He did not want to give too many details about the scope of the conversation, although he did say he and Trotz discussed potential playing styles and systems as well as Ovechkin's game and how it can be improved.

"He said how he wants to play with me and how he wants to play with the team," Ovechkin said. "I don't want to talk about how we talk and about what we talked about. I'm just going to chill right now and do what I can do."

The Capitals captain said he enjoyed the conversation with Trotz.

"He's a straight-forward coach, an honest man and that is probably the best thing to expect from a new guy," Ovechkin said. "It's something new again for me. He worked with one team only and he is going to bring some new stuff for me and my teammates."

Ovechkin had a good season statistically. He scored 51 goals to lead the League and win the Rocket Richard Trophy. He finished with 79 points in 77 games. But the Capitals as a team struggled (38-30-14) and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by three points. Ovechkin also suffered heartbreak at the Olympics; his Russian team, the host club at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, crashed out of the tournament at the quarterfinal stage.

Ovechkin and the Capitals open the 2014-15 season on Oct. 9 against the Montreal Canadiens. He is very much looking forward to it.

"It's basically like you start from beginning," Ovechkin said. "Of course, you want to make [it] much better than you [made it] last year. We'll see how it is going to be in the training camp."

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