Alex Ovechkin(notes) received his fifth consecutive Kharlamov Trophy in Moscow on Friday afternoon. The Kharlamov Trophy is similar to the Ted Lindsay Award. It is awarded to the best Russian NHL player chosen by his peers. The past winners included Sergei Fedorov(notes) and Ilya Kovalchuk(notes).
It is a tradition for NHL players to bring the Stanley Cup to their hometown. Evgeni Malkin(notes) brought the Cup to his hometown of Magnitogorsk last year. Ovechkin doesn't have a Cup yet, but he has a lot of individual trophies he won in the NHL. He brought all of them to the ceremony. It was quite a treat for everyone in attendance to see these awards as none have ever been presented to the public in Russia.
When presented with the Kharlamov Trophy Ovechkin said (via Sovetsky Sport):
"It is very nice to receive this award. Maybe deservedly or not, but I am receiving it, and it is nice that Russian guys in the NHL voted for me. I am happy that it is the fifth time I am receiving this trophy, and I will work hard to do it again next season too."
In addition to the Kharlamov Trophy itself, Ovechkin was presented with a karaoke machine. Why? Apparently, Ovechkin is now a singer too! This summer Ovechkin took to a studio to record a song he dedicated to a girl. A serenade, sort of. Ovechkin downplayed this fact and said we shouldn't expect an album from him. Maybe it's for the better. But Ovechkin's connection with the music industry in Russia now includes a song titled "Ovechkin is forever with us" by a Russian band El Paso.
Ovechkin couldn't avoid the obvious topics too. Much has been said about Talbot's comments about Alex Ovechkin in the last few days. Ovechkin said he read them and added "there is nothing to reply. A person can say all he wants. The ice will show everything." Ovechkin said he was simply ignoring Talbot. Then someone asked when Ovechkin had a street fight the last time. "Actually, I am not allowed to fight. At all. I can't fight. Usually others do it for me."
Ovechkin also commented on the contract his friend Ilya Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils that was rejected by the NHL. He said: "There is no point offering advice in these situations. Ilya is a grown up, he has agents. But I am sure everything will be alright. Kovalchuk signed a good contract. I don't know what the league suspected there. I only wish Ilya good luck and for his contract to come into force." Ovechkin added: "You can secure your future with a long term deal. You can calmly prepare for the season without worrying too much. You don't have to jump out of your pants in your contract year."
The Capitals weren't active this postseason, to say the least. Ovechkin offered his opinion on the changes that happened to the team. "Actually the changes weren't that big. Theodore, Morrison left. It's a shame, of course, but young players showed themselves well. As for the goaltending, in the upcoming season we will reply on [Semyon] Varlamov and [Michal] Neuvirth. We'll see what comes of it."
Last season wasn't the best in Alex Ovechkin's career — an embarrassing loss to Canada at the Olympics, another loss in the final of the World Championship to the Czech Republic, an early exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Ovechkin himself never really said what changed in his game after the Olympics, when everyone noticed that his game had changed. Ovechkin's father, Mikhail, answered that question for Alex:
"The NHL suspension was the most difficult thing for Alex to get over. This is because he was suspended for nothing! Son missed 10 games and then was overtaken in the scoring race at the end of the season by a single goal. And what if he had played in those games? Why do you think NHL players gave the best player award [Ted Lindsay Award] to Alex? They are not fools and understand what is what ... If it wasn't for that disqualification he would have won the scoring title...
"And it is not about the money penalties! Alex had his wings trimmed, the ones that boost the league's image. It was overblown as if he broke his opponent's collarbone ... And he sated playing in two weeks. We all had a feeling that he wasn't treated like a man. There was some sort of pretence in all of it. For similar hits players got two minutes. And there was a show trial for [my] son." added Mikhail Ovechkin.
Alex Ovechkin is already practicing in Moscow for the upcoming NHL season and will shortly join Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikita Filatov(notes) and Nikolai Zherdev(notes) who will all be getting ready together. He will also continue his tradition of taking on-ice practices with Dynamo.