This summer, Alexander Ovechkin is spending a rich vacation. He tried himself on a wakeboard, introduced his children's Ovi Cup tournament, traveled to China as an NHL ambassador, where he learned to write his name in hieroglyphs and received a jade bull as a present, and now he has returned to Russia.
During his stay, the star striker does not forget about his home club Dynamo, in which he began his hockey career. There, the athlete returned during a lockout in the NHL, and now he holds the position of adviser in the club. To meet with the team and wish her good luck, Ovechkin came to the Balashikha Arena for a friendly match of white and blue with the owners of the site, Omsk Avangard, which has been based in the Moscow Region for the second year.
Last season, Omsk residents were forced to move to Balashikha, as their own arena needs to be repaired. “Hawks” and especially their fans were not easy to move, but since then they have settled down in the suburbs. The club even decided to take root and open a branch of its hockey academy, taking under its wing the local school “Olympian”. Ovechkin could not go past such an event and took part in the opening ceremony.
An hour before the start of the match, the Balashikha Arena hall exploded in a children's buzz. Ovechkin, dressed in a black cap and a black sweater with a red pattern, from a distance looked a bit like the player of the Vanguard, but hardly anyone could not recognize him. The hockey player walked past the fans with a slightly guilty look - at first the journalists had to meet with him in the press center. There Ovechkin told how the opening of a new hockey academy would be useful.
“God grant that everything will work out. This is a large-scale project. All talented hockey players need to be engaged, not only in this academy, but throughout Russia. The more such schools there are, the better for all our sports, for hockey. We are moving in the right direction, ”the hockey player said, after which he solemnly handed the sweater with the team’s symbols to 15-year-old defender Artemy Murashov. The next branch of the Avangard Academy could be considered open.
Although Ovechkin continued to wait behind a closed door, and the most curious fans joined the glass walls of the press center, he stayed to answer a few more questions. The hockey player spoke about a recent trip to China as an NHL ambassador, about a possible performance at the Olympics and about future career plans.
“Impressions from a trip to China are only positive. A lot of people are really interested in promoting hockey. Stadiums are being built, the country is preparing for the Olympic Games. It was very interesting, I liked it, ”said Ovechkin.
“I did not have the opportunity to understand whether the NHL will send players to the Olympics. The league went there, I was invited. Therefore, I think that there are chances. Stay in Russia for the Olympics? There are many options, I will not hide anything. But it all depends on whether I will be healthy, whether I can participate. If not, then who will need me there? I’ll tolerate it for two years. There is still health, I want to play as long as possible. But I don’t want to cheat hockey, ”said the captain of Washington.
Recall that the players of the National Hockey League missed the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. A similar situation occurred for the first time since 1994.
After all the questions, Ovechkin autographed Avangard souvenirs for a long time, and then returned to the fans waiting for him. The stewards with a straight face had to form a ring around the athlete - too many, especially adults, wanted to take a picture with the legend of hockey.
But such an opportunity was provided only to students of the new Avangard hockey school. When a solid female voice shouted any year of birth, a crowd of boys with their coach joyfully broke through to Ovechkin. By the height of the response screams, it was possible to determine how old the next lucky ones were - those who take their first steps in hockey literally squealed with delight, and older players responded with bass approval. Against the background of the latter, Ovechkin was even slightly lost - high school students had already surpassed him in growth.
A joyful photo shoot could not do without dramas. One mother scolded her son for sitting during the shooting instead of standing, and he justified himself, as the teacher told him to do so. This did not reassure the woman - she still lamented for a long time because the picture turned out to be imperfect. At the same time, the man literally embraced the steward - his child was just next to Ovechkin, but the tall guy in the green jacket prevented making a shot. After a couple of seconds, the man looked at his phone and still broke into a smile. On the whole, the meeting was successful - young hockey players who besieged the press center for half an hour, vied with each other to brag about the resulting photos.
But as soon as the clock showed that the match was about to begin, as the crowd scattered through the seats, and Ovechkin himself disappeared into the under-stands. He was to take part in another event - to make a symbolic face-off.
Alexander Krylov and Alexander Ovechkin make a symbolic face-off! 🤝 pic.twitter.com/tH4ihlZbev- HC Vanguard (@hcavangardomsk) August 15, 2019
Ovechkin coped with an unusual procedure, because he himself was used to fighting for the puck, and not giving it to others. The event-rich Ovechkin day lacked only one thing - the victory of the native club. “Vanguard”, which in the future will be able to rely on its own pupils, won 2-1.