On Sept. 4, Alex Ovechkin tied up some loose ends, said his goodbyes and boarded a flight out of Moscow, headed west. Behind him was a summer spent shooting commercials, nuzzling with his fiancee and serving as the face of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Ahead, there was training camp, more love-bird nuzzling and another season as the face of the Washington Capitals. It was 40 degrees warmer that day in his adopted home town than in his true one, but metaphorically speaking, as Moscow Ovi gave way to D.C. Ovi somewhere over the North Atlantic, the heat on him died down, at least temporarily.
As long as this city has known him, there have always been two sides to Ovechkin, each with the ability to awe and delight: the goal-scoring magician and the bone-rattling brute, the club-hopping party boy and the unabashed mama’s boy. There was also, by virtue of his bicontinental existence, always two culturally distinct versions of him: D.C. Ovi, who often compensated for his English language insecurities by adopting a larger-than-life persona, was someone you would want to party with. Moscow Ovi was someone you would want to befriend.