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Gretzky wants to see Ovechkin win Stanley Cup

Says NHL's newest 600-goal scorer has 'put heart and soul' into helping Capitals chase championship

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Wayne Gretzky wants to see Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin win the Stanley Cup.

Gretzky, the NHL's all-time leader in goals (894) and points (2,857), has long admired Ovechkin, who scored his 600th career goal in a 3-2 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets at Capital One Arena on Monday.


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"I happen to be good friends with him and I think the world of him," Gretzky said. "If there's one guy that hasn't won a Stanley Cup that I think deserves it, I think it's him. He's worked his rear end off for the game of hockey and the Washington Capitals, and for his country."

Ovechkin, 32, is 20th on the League's all-time goal-scoring list, one behind Jari Kurri, who played right wing on Gretzky's line for eight seasons with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s.

Video: WPG@WSH: Ovi buries rebound for 600th NHL goal

A native of Moscow, Russia, Ovechkin was selected No. 1 by Washington in the 2004 NHL Draft and is in his 13th season with the Capitals, who have yet to advance beyond the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in that time.

Gretzky hopes to see that change.

"I'd love to see him lift the Stanley Cup one day, because I think he's truly put his heart and soul into being a better player and trying to become a champion," he said. "As far as individual records go, it's a thing of longevity and a base of consistency. Here's a guy that rightly so, deserves a lot of credit."

Ovechkin leads Washington with 74 points (42 goals, 32 assists) in 69 games this season. He reached the 40-goal mark for the ninth time when he scored against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3, becoming the sixth player in League history to score 40 or more goals nine times. Ovechkin has scored 50 or more goals seven times and had a career-high 65 in 2007-08.

"It's hard to score in this day and age with the defenders and the players as good as they are, and the athletes as good as they are, and the goaltenders as good as they are," Gretzky said. "So for him to consistently get that 30, 35, 40 goals, it's truly remarkable.

"You can see the joy in his face; he loves to play, he loves to compete. If you do that, a lot of times you're successful and that seems to be his recipe."

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