COLUMBUS, Ohio – Alex Ovechkin wanted a car in Columbus this weekend. Badly.
He lobbied to be the last pick in the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft on Friday, as the “Mr. Irrelevant” for each team was given a brand new Honda – a campaign hilariously chronicled on his Instagram feed, including a hand-written sign that read “I WANT TO BE LAST. I NEED A CAR.”
Alas, he was picked second to last.
On Sunday, he vowed to win the Most Valuable Player in the NHL All-Star Game, a wild affair that saw a new record established for goals scored in a game with 29.
Alas, he finished with three assists, but his linemate and local fan favorite Ryan Johansen won the car.
"I'm not disappointed,” said Ovechkin. “There's going to be a couple surprises."
The surprise is a heartwarming one: Honda is giving Ovechkin a 2015 Accord, and Ovechkin will do what he intended to do since he arrived in Columbus with a car on his mind: Donate it to Ice Dogs, a Northern Virginia hockey program for special needs youth players.
Ovechkin has worked with the program before. He met a young player named Ann Schaab in the preseason, a 10-year-old girl with Down Syndrome whom he befriended. She memorably asked the Washington Capitals captain for a sushi date, and the resulting video was a viral sensation.
After Ovechkin begged for a car at the NHL Fantasy Draft and didn’t get one, executives from Honda took notice. “Once we saw all the action, activity and emotion, we reached out to the NHL and asked if we could work something out,” said Nick Lee, their national advertising manager.
“We didn’t find out the reason he wanted one until we connected with his agent.”
As Ovechkin told NHL.com, "Honda connected with my agent and they just gave me a car, so I'm going to donate to [Ice Dogs] and that sweet little girl."
Ovechkin’s agent David Abrutyn said the Capitals star always intended to donate any car he received during All-Star Weekend to charity, and decided that Ice Dogs should be the beneficiary because of his time with Ann Schaab.
“With the skate that he did with the [Ice Dogs] in the preseason … it was about the organization that Ann works with. It was a special time for him,” he said.
Ovechkin was surprised by the gesture, and was glad he could help the organization.
"It's going to go to Ann and the [Ice Dogs] organization. It's all about having fun and making people happy."