It's almost unbelievable how much the perception of Alex Ovechkin has changed since 2009, the year in which the Washington Capitals superstar collected his second-consecutive Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player.
Back then, Ovechkin was arguably the best player in the game, and seemed to be on the verge of delivering Washington the city's first Stanley Cup. Today, however, Ovechkin is merely a run-of-the-mill star player in the eyes of many, which is due to both his lack of postseason success and rapidly declining individual numbers in the regular season.
Despite all of this, Ovechkin is undoubtedly one of the most gifted athletes in the sport's recent memory, and with a revamped coaching staff, an apparent new outlook and all the motivation in the world, this should be a bounce-back season for the Russian sniper.
Though he won't be widely regarded as a contender whenever the puck drops on the 2012-13 NHL season, here are seven reasons why Ovechkin should be a favorite for the Hart in 2013.