Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was a guest on NBC's Today Show live from Rockefeller Center in New York City on Monday to discuss his selection to represent Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"I'm very excited," Ovechkin told NBC's Carson Daly."It's a big honor for me, for my country."
Ovechkin will be making his third Olympic appearance and was the first Russian to carry the Olympic Torch in a ceremony at Olympia, Greece on Sept. 29, 2013. In the 2006 Turin Olympics, Russia lost the bronze medal game to the Czech Republic. Four years later in Vancouver, Russia fell in the quarterfinals to Canada, the eventual gold-medal winner.
This year, the games will be played in Ovechkin's home country, where there will be extra incentive to win gold.
"Everybody wants to win a gold medal, especially when playing at home," Ovechkin said. "I'm sure every hockey player, every fan in Russia, wants us to win. But it's going to be hard because every team has a strong team. It's going to be a battle."
Ovechkin has represented Russia in three World Junior Championships, nine World Championships and the World Cup of Hockey. His mother, Tatyana Ovechkina, is a two-time women's basketball gold medalist with the Soviet Union in 1976 and 1980. A superstitious mother, Ovechkina has never sat together with Ovechkin's father to watch their son in action since the Capitals captain was 14 years old.
"It's a situation where you just leave it alone," Ovechkin said. "She's an Olympian, but we don't talk about it a lot."
Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, Ovechkin leads all players in goals, points, power-play goals, power-play points and game-winning goals. He leads the League with 35 goals this season.