ARLINGTON, Va. -- Eleven seasons in the NHL haven't dampened Alex Ovechkin's enthusiasm for the game. He doesn't make it long into the summer before he's ready to start another season.
"You just want to play," Ovechkin said Wednesday after arriving at Washington Capitals training camp. "It's kind of when you're waiting when the season's over like, 'OK I'm gonna have a couple months to wait.' But as soon as three weeks off, you feel like the season's gonna have to start right away because you miss this atmosphere and attention. Sometimes it just gets boring."
The Capitals captain played seven games for Team Russia at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. It was a welcome distraction, though he said it was difficult at times.
"It was hard mentally, physically," Ovechkin said. "Obviously you can ask any guys who played it. It was hard to just go out there and play hard because [you've] never been in this situation before."
World Cup players had one week of practice with their team before playing three pretournament games, then three preliminary-round games. Team Russia then lost to Team Canada 5-3 in the semifinals on Saturday.
"It's been [a] great tournament," Ovechkin said. "We play against the best players in the world out there. You can talk about what if, what if. It was fun, it was nice to represent my country out there, and we do our best."
Ovechkin had three days off and said he felt good after his first day at Capitals camp. The three-time Hart Trophy winner who led the NHL with 50 goals last season turned 31 on Sept. 17 and said he isn't concerned about the toll the extra games might have on his body.
Instead, he said players who participated in the World Cup will have an advantage by starting the NHL season in better shape. Ovechkin was one of eight Capitals who were named to a World Cup team, and coach Barry Trotz is an assistant with Team Canada, which is playing in the World Cup final against Team Europe.
"It's gonna help [those who were] playing already in these tough games, mentally and physically," Ovechkin said.