Once upon a time, Alexander Ovechkin was the best hockey player in the world. He was a human highlight reel. Every time he touched the puck, there was a real chance you might see something amazing.
He scored goals from his back. He scored them from his knees. He made plays that defied logic and everything everyone thought they knew about hockey skill.
He ceased being Alex Ovechkin and became simply the Great 8. He almost single-handedly resurrected the Washington Capitals franchise and transformed the Caps from doormats to an Eastern Conference power.
Ovi wasn't just part of the franchise—he was the franchise. So valuable was he that the Caps rewarded him with a 13-year, $124 million contract (via ESPN).
Alex Ovechkin was a superstar in every sense of the word.
That was then.
This is now.
For the past two seasons, Ovi's numbers have fallen rather dramatically—and so have the Caps' fortunes. This present shortened season has also been a disappointing one for Ovi and the Caps. With the exception of the game on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils—where Ovi recorded his first hat trick in more than two years—the Great 8 has been rather average.
How did this happen? How did one of the best players in the world—someone who seemed like a lock to win multiple Stanley Cups and go to the Hall of Fame—fall into being an average player, or perhaps somewhat above average?
Let's take a look at each season of Alexander Ovechkin's career so far to see if any clues can be discovered.