WASHINGTON, D.C.–Alexander Ovechkin is a machine. On the ice and off he constantly gives his all, to the delight of Capitals fans and lovers of hockey everywhere.
Yet even Ovechkin looked a bit tired on Friday night at the party in his honor at chic D.C. restaurant Teatro Goldoni. Given his recent schedule, that’s no surprise. When asked what his favorite part of Thursday night was, he replied, “Finally going to sleep,” and seemed at least half-serious. Still, Ovechkin gamely posed for photos and gave a bevy of interviews — he even dedicated 5 minutes to an impromptu blogger roundtable consisting of me, Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski, and Jon “JP” Press.
Wyshynski mentioned to Ovechkin that one of the 134 voters did not give him a Hart vote despite each voter picking their top 5 candidates, a revelation that seemed to surprise him as much as it surprised us earlier. After some consideration as to who the ‘hater’ might be, Ovechkin jokingly replied, “Um… maybe Tarik?” Tarik got just as good a laugh out of the joke when we relayed it to him later in the evening.
Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis summed up Ovechkin’s attitude perfectly as he addressed the festive crowd early in the evening: “On the way home I asked Alex what he thought about the awards. He said he’d trade them all for one Stanley Cup.”
The best “frozen moment” of the evening was seeing three decades’ worth of great Capitals together. Rod Langway, Peter Bondra, and Alex Ovechkin could arguably be considered the best Caps of the 80s, 90s, and 2000s respectively. Seeing Bondra and Langway celebrating Ovechkin’s quad-fecta of awards warmed my Capitals heart.
Phil Pritchard was there as well, the Hockey Hall of Fame Resource Centre Vice President and Curator — better known to hockey fans as the white-gloved caretaker of Lord Stanley’s Cup. Engaging and friendly to all, Pritchard too looked a bit haggard as he watched over the four awards. Yet his passion for hockey’s precious metal was always clear.
These trophies, unlike the Stanley Cup, don’t travel with the winners for the most part. Rather than Ovechkin escorting them to Moscow, for instance, Pritchard had an 8-hour post-party drive to bring the hardware back to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The trophies will return to the D.C. area for opening night of the 2008-09 season and likely for a visit to the Capitals’ training facility at Kettler some time during training camp.
I remembered to bring my Ross replica trophy for a photo op with the real thing — these detailed replicas were sold at Canadian McDonald’s locations in 2003; I picked up the Ross in Halifax. Six of the trophies had replicas that year and, according to Pritchard, the plan to make replicas of the remaining trophies the following season was derailed by the lockout.
I also have a Stanley Cup replica ready to pose for a similar photo in DC with the real Cup… hopefully soon.
Later that evening, as Pritchard carefully loaded the trophies in to customized cases for the long journey home, I snapped a few photos:
As you might imagine, the festive atmosphere and star power of the evening drew many beautiful young Washingtonians dressed to impress.
Before I end with a few more photos, on behalf of OFB I’d like to extend heartfelt thanks to the Washington Capitals for including us in this event. Ted Leonsis, Kurt Kehl, Nate Ewell, Sean Parker, Mike Vogel — they and all the rest were gracious hosts, and just plain fun to B.S. with about whatever came to mind. We’re lucky to be part of a hockey community where such down-to-earth people are running the show.
And as always, thank you to all OFB readers (particularly during the past few days of technical glitches). It’s incredibly gratifying to have such passionate and knowledgeable readers, and we will continue doing our best to bring you ever-improving Capitals coverage in seasons to come.