Maybe, in that early '70s NHL show, Boston's Derek Sanderson was something like that. But Sanderson had nowhere (and I mean, nowhere) near the skill Ovechkin brings to the rink. Watching A.O. during All-Star weekend, it's not hard to notice his swagger, which, by the way, is a great thing for a sport that can use a little more personality.
During the Scotiabank NHL Fan Fav Breakaway Challenge, Ovechkin didn't disappoint the packed house at Bell Centre. After failing on his third trick-shot attempt, he skated to the bench where, of all people, his evidently new friend Evgeni Malkin had a big floppy beach hat (which had a small Canadian flag attached to it) and a monster-size pair of shades.
Malkin helped Ovechkin get into his new look, wiped off his sunglasses and offered him a swig of Gatorade. Then, Ovie took two sticks -- one righty and one lefty (probably Malkin's) -- and moved toward the goalie with a puck. He passed the puck back and forth between his two twigs before discarding his natural right-handed stick. Shooting lefty, he fired a low shot that was stopped by the goaltender (not one of the All-Stars). Not to be denied, Ovechkin poked the rebound past the stopper and launched into celebration mode. As he skated back toward the bench, the Capitals megastar threw red his hat and shades into the crowd, which loved his energy.
This guy really gets it. He understands there's an entertainment element to this old game of ours.
Now, while the moves were fun to watch, Ovechkin's unexpected public interaction with Malkin had to catch most puck-watchers by surprise. The two Russian-born stars have been estranged over a personal matter that neither player was too interested in discussing. The feud caught the eye of fans and media when both players went out of their way to hit each other in recent games between the Caps and Pens.
According to one source, Thrashers captain (and fellow Russian star) Ilya Kovalchuk brokered the peace deal between Ovie and Geno. In playing the part of peacemaker, Kovalchuk might have been looking toward the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The three snipers figure to be a big part of Team Russia's gold-medal hopes.
During the YoungStars Game, Ovechkin and Kovalchuk sat side-by-side on the Sophomore team bench. Earlier, Kovalchuk went new media, working his BlackBerry in the locker room. I think he was trying to cast a vote in the Fan Fav competition. Devils winger Zach Parise came to his aid, helping him find what he was searching for. Later, Ovechkin said he voted for Steven Stamkos. C'mon Ovie, you know you wanted to vote for yourself! Everybody else voted for you.