The Washington Post

SI on Alex Ovechkin’s relationship with Maria Kirilenko


Alex Ovechkin’s relationship with Maria Kirilenko has frequently been explored in the nooks and crannies of today’s sports journalism world: places like the Style pages, and blogs, and Bogs.

But now, that relationship is the focus of the lead section of a lengthy Sports Illustrated feature.

That Ovechkin-cover-story-that-never-was appears in this week’s issue, and the story begins with a scoring champ in love. Sarah Kwak reports that Ovechkin met his fiancee, Maria Kirilenko, at the 2011 U.S. Open after a preseason NHL press junket, and that he believes their relationship was meant to be. One excerpt:

“Destiny,” he said last week through his signature gap-toothed smile at Washington’s practice facility in Arlington, Va. “I believe in destiny.”….

He and Kirilenko exchanged numbers [at that tournament], untroubled by the inconvenience of living thousands of miles and an ocean apart — he in D.C., she in Moscow.

“Our connection was over the phone, over Skype,” Kirilenko said last Thursday in Russian through SI reporter Anastassia Smorodinskaya. “For a long time we didn’t actually see each other, but even with the distance between us, it felt like we had known each other for a long time.”

The long-distance love affair has helped the 27-year old Capitals captain change his old ways. “I don’t think [the relationship] changed my personality, but it’s changed my lifestyle,” he says. “No more crazy stuff like I did in the summers.”

What kind of crazy stuff? “You don’t want to know,” he says with a smile.

Ovechkin later tells Kwak that he doesn’t want to “do something stupid,” because it could jeopardize his relationship. And while George McPhee points to things like a new coach and a new position to explain Ovechkin’s resurgence, some teammates suggest in the story that settling down could help a hockey player: “You get into a routine, and I think [Ovechkin] has that,” Matt Hendricks says.

There’s also a great deal in the story about the relationship between Adam Oates and Ovechkin, and the position change they worked on together. But that’s not quite as sexy of a storyline. So to speak.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.



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Dan Steinberg · May 3, 2013