Instead, Ovechkin, who was in the midst of a historic season, was on a video call for NHL media with his fellow Metropolitan Division counterparts, answering questions about his life since the NHL season was “paused.”
The NHL instructed players and team staff this week to extend their period of self-quarantine, which was set to end Friday, to April 6. The NHL also postponed its scouting combine, entry draft and awards show — each scheduled for June.
“Me and my family are in Washington, staying home, keeping busy, lots of stuff to do in the house,” Ovechkin said on the video call. “You know, play with the little one. We are expecting another one in a couple months, so try to do some workout as well, but first week was kind of good thing, relaxing. We chilling, and now it is kind of getting boring right now.”
With 48 goals through 69 games, Ovechkin was just two away from hitting the 50-goal mark for the ninth time in his 15-year career. Ovechkin was tied with the Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak for the most in the NHL. With 706 goals, he is three shy of passing Mike Gartner (708) for seventh on the NHL career list.
“Right now our mind is on just trying to be safe,” Ovechkin said on the milestones. “It’s a scary situation. It’s a scary moment for people all around, not only us. You think about those little things, but as soon as you start thinking worldwide and what’s going on in the world, it’s scary. So my mind right now, it’s not about 50 goals or catching the Great One or somebody else, my mind right now is about doing the best what I can do or what my family can do to be safe and to get over it.”
Much the season focused on Ovechkin hitting the 700-goal mark, which he achieved Feb. 22 against the Devils at the Prudential Center. Now the conversation has turned to chasing Wayne Gretzky’s record (894), but with the lockout season (2004-05), another work stoppage (2012-13) and this pause, is that still possible?
“I hope Ovi does get there,” Subban said. “I just hope he doesn’t score against us. He scored 700 against us. I think it was 700 he scored. I’m sick and tired of seeing it. But it’s good for the game. So I wish you the best of luck.”
Ovechkin said he’s willing to forgo another 50-goal season for the playoffs to start immediately when the NHL returns. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, speaking on another video call, agreed. The Capitals sit in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 90 points and 13 games left.
“We don’t want to play those extra games, but for different guys who fight for a playoff spot, some guys want those extra games,” Ovechkin said. “Of course, the more games we play, it’s going to be better for the fans, and it’s going to be better for the teams fighting for the playoffs, but I’d rather start the playoffs right away. Sorry, guys.”
Ovechkin admitted it has been hard to balance training with the uncertainty of when the season will return. However, his personal trainer from Russia is with him in Washington, so he continues, even if “sometimes I don’t want to do it.”
“To have a coach, trainer with me, he’s helped me a lot obviously because you get used to being with the team, working out with the team all year and right now you are kind of by yourself,” Ovechkin said.
Ovechkin, who has a small gym in his house, continues to work out there, in addition to riding his bike, running, playing soccer and taking slap shots with his son, Sergei.
With the season in a holding pattern, the captain’s focus is on keeping himself, his family and others across the hockey community safe.
“The most important thing is take care of yourself, take care of your family, friends,” Ovechkin said. “Help each other just to be safe because right now is hard time. We all miss you. . . . Try to help if somebody needs the help. Because right now we are together and we have to fight through it together.”
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