"You know, I have a moratorium of a kind," he told Sovetsky Sport. "I decided that in the first three weeks after coming [to Russia] I will cancel all PR appearances. I don't give interview, won't be in magazines or on TV."
Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport, however, caught up with Ovechkin in Moscow for a wide-ranging interview that will publish in Russian this afternoon. Here is an except I have translated, as Ovechkin speaks about life after Game 7 against the Penguins, recovering from a "difficult" season and expectations for his first trip to Vegas.
Q. So, you decided to lay low like a submarine? Alexei Morozov had the same kind of mood after the World Championships in Bern this year.
OVECHKIN: No, I am not laying low. I just want to relax to the fullest. I just don't need a lot of commotion around my name right now.
Can you say that this was the most difficult season in your career?
Yes. One of the most difficult... Look how far we made it in the playoffs. I never played in the second round before. It was tough both mentally and physically.
Let's cheer you up a bit. The Sporting News named you the best player in the NHL after surveying 292 NHLers. More than a half named you the best player in the league. Do you like it?
This is so far [away] for me now... I don't even want to think about it now.
Now I believe you that this was a very tough season.
You have to understand me correctly. It is very nice to hear news like that. But I have switched off from hockey right now. It is in the background for me.
I remember what you said after the season ended: "No one will make me watch hockey now."
I won't even get close to a TV.
Not long ago [OnFrozenBlog] rated Washington's players' season. Two marks: one for the regular season, the other for the playoffs.
Like in school for essays? One for grammar, the other for content?
Yes. So, Ovechkin got A+/A+. How would you rate your season?
I don't like to either praise or criticize myself. What's the point? I will only agree that the team and I played well in the Stanley Cup. But there is a huge difference between 'playing well' and 'we got past Pittsburgh and made it to the [finals].' Do you see it? Pittsburgh right now is battling with Carolina, but our season is over.
But you had your first postseason hat-trick. Even now you're currently third in the scoring race in the playoffs.
As a professional, I will say that my individual play was good in the playoffs. But as a part of the team... Yes, we didn't get the Cup. But let's be optimistic. Last season we lost to Philadelphia in the first round, also in seven games. This year we got stopped at Pittsburgh in the second round. So, God willing, just like this, step by step we will make it to the championships rings.
Was it a serious blow that you lost Game 7 at home to Pittsburgh with a score of 2-6?
Honestly? Serious... It took me about a week to recover. I couldn't accept the fact that playoffs were over for us.
Also your coach Bruce Boudreau said that Ovechkin played in the postseason with groin and wrist injuries. If it was in the regular season you would go to see a doctor and not an opposing goalie.
And who didn't have injuries, tell me? Semin played with a injury, Sergei Fedorov(notes), John Erskine(notes), Mike Green(notes). Half the team was injured. But what can you do? You have to play. I personally played every game on painkillers.
Who do you feel for if the Stanley Cup? Ilya Kovalchuk confessed that he is rooting for the Penguins.
I wouldn't say that I am feeling for the Penguins. I actually don't care who wins the Cup. If it's Detroit, Chicago or Carolina, I won't be upset.
But you also told Malkin and Crosby, when they knocked your team out: "Go ahead and win the Cup."
That's not what I said. I just wished them luck, that's all. It won't be some kind of a bonus for me if Pittsburgh wins the Cup and it will be like Washington lost to the eventual winner. It is a position of a loser.
You won't even give your predictions?
I will, if you want. Pittsburgh and Detroit will meet in the final, just like last year.
When are you traveling to Las Vegas?
On June 14, I am traveling with a friend.
Four days before the awards ceremony?
Actually I have never been to Las Vegas before. There will be time to hang out there, walk around...
Go to a casino...
Only on a tour. I won't play the roulette. I am not a gambler.
[Maybe] you can bet on 8, take the jackpot. Beginner's luck.
Do you think money falls on me from the sky? I earn them with sweat and blood. I cannot throw them left and right.
And this is after you made $9 million last season? Making one million a month, what do you do with this kind of money?
I don't look at my bank account. Yes, I treat money wisely, they are not stashed in my closet without use. Sorry, I won't give media any details. But nothing has changed in my life because of the fact that I am making more money now than I did last year. I am still the same Alex Ovechkin.
When the season ended, Boudreau did not have a team meeting but rather invited each player individually to talk. What did the coach talk to you about?
My contract is not ending. That's why we didn't talk about the future. Just some common words: what wasn't good during the season, and what was... We wished each other to have a great vacation. Nothing serious.
Did he give you any homework for the summer?
I am not a little boy. Boudreau knows that I get ready for the season myself. I work with a fitness trainer.
And when will it start?
Oh, don't ask! Let me take a rest!
I know that as soon as you came to Moscow you went to a Eurovision song contest.
Yes. Ari Zakarian picked me up at the airport and we went to get a credential [for the contest], ate at a restaurant. Then we went to the contest. I watched it together with Ari, Dima Bilan, Yana Rutkovskaya. And, can you imagine, I fell asleep when contestants started singing. The time difference took its toll. I just switched off for like 10 minutes. They I was woken up and even felt good.
Why didn't you go to Miami? Your whole "gang" is there now - Kovalchuk, Semin, Kozlov, Fedorov probably, even Morozov promised to come...
I don't feel like going there, you know... I wanted to go to Moscow, to my parents' dacha. I rushed there the second day I was here. Right after the Eurovision song contest. I missed Moscow so much, that even on a plane from Washington I felt such nostalgia.
What kind of schedule is the famous hockey player Alex Ovechkin living now?
I sleep until I am completely happy. Now I get it all after whatever sleep I missed during the NHL season. I can easily wake up at three or four in the afternoon.
And then go to a club?
It depends on how it goes. My Moscow days are just starting... Alright! Gotta go!