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Ovechkin embraces change in a busy summer

by Tal Pinchevsky

Since returning to Washington a few weeks ago to catch up with some of his teammates, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has been sporting a closely-cropped hairstyle. But the new do is a minor change compared to some of the other alterations the scoring winger made this past summer.

One of the most noteworthy changes to Ovechkin's offseason regimen was his workout. Whereas he previously spent his summers focusing on building up his lower body, the new summer routine involves a greater emphasis on stretching and mobility.


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"I started working out in a different way. I started working out more on my body and movements. Right now I'm doing stretch stuff with the balls. At the gym, I'm doing different stuff than I did before. We'll see how it goes," Ovechkin told Mike Vogel of the Capitals' website. "I changed up lots of things. I spent all summer with my girlfriend, traveling around. I spent only two or three weeks in Moscow, maybe less than that."

It might be Ovechkin's relationship with tennis star Maria Kirilenko that has had the greatest influence on the star player's summer.

Ovechkin typically would spend much of his offseason with friends in Turkey, but this past summer saw him spanning the globe watching the Moscow-born Kirilenko climb the WTA rankings. With her boyfriend watching from the stands, Kirilenko made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon for the first time ever before winning a bronze medal in the women's doubles competition at the 2012 Olympics in London. Of course, the couple still found some time to visit Ovechkin's Turkish vacation home.

"I've been in Turkey with her and my friends only five days before the Olympic games," said Ovechkin. "I asked her dad if can we go on vacation, because for me it's good and for her it was very important to just relax from tennis and be in the sun and enjoy five days off."

With the summer now over, there are even greater changes awaiting Ovechkin in Washington, where former Capitals star and Devils assistant Adam Oates now serves as the head coach. For the team captain, the hire potentially gives the Caps a chance to adopt a more balanced game plan.

"He was a solid player who read the game and knew how to play the game. For me, the most important thing was he talked to me for almost three hours. I was very impressed," said Ovechkin. "It's probably going to be a much different system than we had with Dale [Hunter]. It's probably going to be more offense than we're used to seeing."

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