Two wins, an ESPN loss in Ovechkin's assault on pop culture

Greg Wyshynski
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To go along with being (statistically) the best player in hockey, Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin has also conquered the world of commercials (video), entered the streetwear scene, starred on Russian awards show presentations and caroused with the stunning offspring of Hockey Hall of Famers.

In case you haven't noticed yet, the guy's one best-selling book and a movie cameo away from being the Czar of All Media.

Three new hits on the Ovechkin pop culture radar: A victory, a defeat and a reference in an Eminem-style hip-hop song. No, we're not sure how to categorize that last one, either.

• First, the rather stunning news for Ovie Nation: Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins took home the ESPY Award last night for top NHL player. Crosby topped Ovechkin (whose nomination was the headline for many papers), Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings and Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames for the award. Perhaps fan voting continues to just baffle at every turn? Nah, we all know this is a secret scheme by ESPN to undermine Ovechkin's unstoppable momentum because they hate hockey. Well, at least his coach got some props this week.

• Now, the clear victory: Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog reports that 17 huge billboards featuring Ovechkin have gone up around Moscow:

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The translation, from Ovechkin's business manager to Steinberg: "Olympic athletes. You can do it. I believe in you. See you in Beijing. Alexander Ovechkin." Perhaps the most inspirational message to Russian athletes in recent memory that didn't involve the word "gulag."

• Finally, there's ... well, this: Japers' Rink reports that Ovechkin was name-checked in a rap song by "hip-hop's next big thing" Asher Roth. It's a (NSFW) freestyle over "A Millie" by Lil Wayne, which features this line: "Rap's Wayne Gretzky/Yes, I'm the best/ And only 22/More like Alex Ovechkin." It sounds like he says "Alish," but who are we to tempt fate that some Seth Green-looking dude might snap and bust a cap. Assuming they still sell glocks in towns with three smoothie stores and a Michael's.

All kidding aside, Roth rapped for Jay-Z and has a few press clippings, so who knows: Maybe this name-check joins Snoop Dogg's Ducks obsession in the pantheon of hockey/hip-hop crossovers. Or maybe it'll be like Kris Kross wearing backwards Devils jerseys. Man, that was wigity-wigity-wigity-wack.