Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and his countryman, New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk, got together for the second year in a row to host a charity game to benefit deaf and blind children in Russia.
Yes, Team Ovi vs. Team Kovi.
The game will take place in a few days in Moscow. Apart from the two NHL stars, a number of other celebrities will participate including former greats Slava Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov. Maxim Afinogenov and Evgeni Artyukhin will also play. Sergei Fedorov may also attend. It was earlier announced that Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Bryzgalov will also play, but they won't be able to because both are in North America already. Pavel Datsyuk is another one who will miss the event — he is taking his daughter to school on Sept. 1.
After the official press conference dedicated to the event, our friend Pavel Lysenkov from Sovetsky Sport asked Ovechkin a few questions:
Q. You were filmed for the Capitals official website. Everyone was shocked that Ovechkin gained extra weight during the offseason. You have quite a gut there!
OVECHKIN: "I don't have a gut, do I?!" [Ovechkin said pointing to his body.] "Everyone started calling me yelling on the phone: 'What did you do to yourself? Watch the video!' I went online and gasped: 'I am in trouble!'
"I don't even understand myself how this was filmed this way. My hands were swollen [in the video] as if I was after a weeklong hangover. My gut, my face…"
A distorted picture?
"Yes, that's how it was filmed. And when you're sitting, slouching, your gut would still stick out.
"But it is all over the Internet now."
What can you say about Sidney Crosby who still cannot recover from the concussion? He may miss even this season.
"God willing it won't be true. Right now Crosby is one of the best hockey players in the world. If he leaves, it will be a huge loss for people and for the sport in general. I will be very upset."
But it was former Washington Capitals forward David Steckel who gave him the concussion. You are responsible for his action as his captain.
"It was an unintentional collision. One hundred percent! A game play. Moreover, the next game a Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman had a rough play against Crosby behind the net. You can't get away from episodes like this in hockey."
There is a debate across the ocean whether Ilya Kovalchuk can become the next captain of New Jersey. Your opinion?
"He is a certain candidate, who cannot be argued against. Kovalchuk is a leader, a true warrior. They know it in New Jersey. Although this is not my organization, that's why I cannot answer for their decision."
The Philadelphia Flyers got stronger with the acquisition of Ilya Bryzgalov. And this is a club from your conference.
"Yes, it's not very nice. It is going to be more difficult to score against the Flyers now.
"But I was shocked when the Flyers traded Jeff Carter and captain Mike Richards. And then Bryz came over. He came to a good team that plays a tough defensive hockey."
Goaltender Varlamov left Washington for Colorado. It was surprising that you didn't even call Varlamov …
"Yeah, there was no communication. But what can you say here? A person left. But we are friends. A change of team will not affect our relationship in any way. Quite the opposite, Varlamov got a chance to become the number one in Colorado. His career can only go on the rise.
"And Washington didn't do bad either. For Varlamov we got two first-round draft picks. [Ed. Note: Well, just one actually, but who's counting?] And we signed Tomas Vokoun. Our GM George McPhee did everything right.
"And I don't understand the critics. You have to be an idiot to say that Varlamov is a weak goalie. Semyon often saved us, played well. Last season wasn't that good [for him] due to injuries. But he is a high quality goaltender. He won't be lost in the NHL."