After going a few days without skating during his trip to New York for an NHL media tour, Alex Ovechkin asked Coach Bruce Boudreau if he could join the rookies’ on-ice session on Sunday morning.
The two-time Hart Trophy winner waited his turn in drills, followed every instruction as if he were a rookie himself but that didn’t keep some of the current prospects from watching Ovechkin.
“If I’m one of the young guys and I’m seeing Alex Ovechkin and I haven’t skated with him — you see a man that’s like that on the ice and it’s a pretty big wow factor,” said Boudreau, who told Ovechkin not to stay out on the ice for the entire first rookie practice. “I don’t know what it’s like today, but when I got a chance my first day to be on the same ice as Darryl Sittler or work a hockey school when I was still in junior and Bobby Orr was there I was pretty in awe.”
Boudreau also wagered that the work ethic and focus he saw from the prospects on the first day of rookie camp might have been a byproduct of Ovechkin’s presence.
Cody Eakin has had the opportunity to skate alongside Ovechkin and the Capitals’ other NHL players in his previous training camp appearances, but trying to play it cool around the star left wing can be easier said than done.
“For some guys that haven’t seen that, it pushes them and motivates them to not make a bad pass or a bad check and keep up to him and stuff like that,” Eakin said. “I’m lucky enough to have seen it over a couple of years and try not to get nervous when I see him out there and I’m skating alongside him on the ice.”