Who Is Alex Ovechkin?
The son of famous Soviet era-athletes, Alex Ovechkin was widely considered one of the world's top young hockey players by age 17. Ovechkin was selected No. 1 overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2004 NHL Draft and went on to become one of the league's most explosive scorers.
Alexander Mikhaylovich Ovechkin was born on September 17, 1985, in Moscow, Russia. He's the son of well-known Soviet-era athletes. His mother, Tatyana, excelled at basketball and was a two-time Olympic gold medalist. His father, Mikhail, was a serious soccer player.
Ovechkin's childhood was shaped by modesty. Not long after his birth, he moved with his family to the outskirts of Moscow, making a home in a tall high-rise building that was surrounded by a crumbling neighborhood. To escape his surroundings and strict public school, Ovechkin turned to hockey, pouring everything he had into the sport.
By the age of 16, Ovechkin had begun playing with the Moscow Dynamo, a pro Russian team. A year later, he became the youngest member of Russia's national team.
Spurred to escape a Russian life that had already claimed his older brother, who died in a car crash, and was consuming his friends—many having become addicted to drugs—Ovechkin dreamed of playing in the NHL. In his bedroom, he carefully stashed away the cards of many players, including his idol, Mario Lemieux.
Considered a hockey phenom in his native country, Ovechkin soon earned the praise of NHL scouts. As his game took off, his confidence soared. At the 2002 Under-18 World Championships in Slovakia, the young forward led the tournament with 14 goals in just eight games.
"It's the best hockey there is," Ovechkin said of the NHL. "And I think I'm ready to play there, wherever I'm drafted."
In the end, the highly prized and touted Ovechkin went No. 1 overall to the Washington Capitals in the 2004 NHL Draft.
Forced to miss a year due to the league's season-long lockout, Ovechkin made his NHL debut with a bang in October 2005, potting two goals in just four minutes and checking an opponent so hard that he broke the glass partition. He went on to net 52 goals and register 54 assists that season (2005-06), winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's Rookie of the Year.
In the years since, the Russian superstar has only stepped up his dominance to become one of the NHL's most explosive and feared scorers. During the 2007-08 season, Ovechkin scored 65 times and dished out 47 assists to capture his first Hart Trophy as the league's MVP.
The following season, Ovechkin won the Hart for the second (consecutive) time. He earned a third MVP honor following the 2012-13 season.
In addition to his NHL career, Ovechkin was a key member of two Russian Olympic squads, in 2006 and 2010. Scheduled to play in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Ovechkin was tapped as the official ambassador for his home country. As the country's most famous winter athlete, he kicked off the running of the 2014 Olympic torch in Olympia, Greece.
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