Alex Ovechkin: Profile of Russian Hockey Olympian for Sochi 2014

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2014

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 29: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates against the Buffalo Sabres on December 29, 2013 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Bill Wippert/Getty Images

Crash Course: Alex Ovechkin is the premier goal scorer in the NHL. A year after leading the league in scoring with 32 goals in the lockout-shortened 48-game season, he is atop the league's goal-scoring list once again. Ovechkin has exceeded the 50-goal mark four times in his nine seasons, and he is on track to blow by that mark in 2013-14. That would also make tennis star Maria Kirilenko, his fiancee, quite happy.

Olympic Story: Ovechkin is the most high-profile player on a talented Russian hockey team that includes Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk. This is Ovechkin's third time representing his country in the Olympics, and he desperately wants to lead his team to gold, as these games will be played in his home country. The Russians had a disappointing sixth-place performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and they want to make up for it in Sochi.

Rivalry: Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have been rivals throughout their careers in the NHL and international hockey. Ovechkin has regularly come out second best in these confrontations, and it would be humiliating if Crosby and the Canadians beat the Russians on their home ice.

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Intense Pressure: A group of 16 former Soviet/Russian hockey players, led by legendary goaltender Vladislav Tretiak, sent an open letter to the current Russian team, asking them to win the gold medal and not let Russia down. Tretiak won gold three times during his Olympic career.

Need for Speed: Ovechkin loves cars, and he's an avid collector. He has seven cars, including a $250,000, 200 mph Mercedes SL 65 AMG Black Series, one of only 350 made worldwide. Ovechkin's parents can't understand why he needs seven automobiles.

Social Profile: Ovechkin enjoys communicating with his fans. He has a Twitter page with more than 650,000 followers, a Facebook fan page with 340,000-plus likes and an Instagram page with 9,500 fans.

Quote to Note: “I think Datsyuk [is] going to be [the] captain. ...he [has] respect on the ice and off the ice. I don’t know who’s going to be captain, but my opinion of who [has] to be captain [it] is Datsyuk.” — Ovechkin, to the Washington Post, perhaps trying to deflect some of the pressure on him.