Saturday, June 14, 2008
One day after winning the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in Toronto, Alex Ovechkin had one more piece of hardware to claim in downtown Washington: a key to the city, presented to him by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty during a fan ceremony on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building.
"It's a big honor to stand here today," Ovechkin told approximately 500 fans, who chanted "M-V-P" as the 22-year-old left wing stepped to the podium. "Thank you for your support. You are unbelievable, guys. I love you."
Then Ovechkin, who is known for his love of exotic sports cars, cracked: "Today is a big day; I have the key for the city. I am president this day in the city. For one day. So everybody have fun -- no speed limit."
Ovechkin accepted the key -- it's silver, about eight inches long and mounted to a mahogany plaque -- underneath an enormous banner bearing the words "Congratulations Alex Ovechkin, 2007-08 NHL MVP" as the red-clad crowd applauded and passing cars on Pennsylvania Avenue tooted their horns.
"Alex Ovechkin in future years will be talked about just as we talked about Gordie Howe, just as we talked about Wayne Gretzky, just as we talked about Bobby Orr," D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray told the fans. "He will go down as one of the greatest. . . . He was the most outstanding player this year and next year, or the year after, he will lead us to the Stanley Cup."
In addition to becoming the first Capital to be named MVP, Ovechkin also became the first player to win the Hart, Lester B. Pearson Award and the Art Ross and Maurice"Rocket" Richard trophies after a season in which he racked up a league best 112 points and 65 goals.
"This is the best city in the entire world, and we are so glad that the entire country knows that we have the best hockey player in the world," Fenty said.
-- Tarik El-Bashir