Photo: Jordan Bondurant / NoVa Caps
On Thursday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin spoke to the media on the first day of training camp. Discuss heading into his 18th season in the National Hockey League.
On the new roster ahead of the 2022-23 season, Ovechkin said, “It’s hockey. It’s work. You’re obviously forging a friendship and it’s hard to see your friend go… I wish everyone well and I’m looking forward to this year.”
The capital squad will be without key players to start the season: center Niklas Backstrom (hip, undergoes surgery on June 18, recovery timeline unknown) and right winger Tom Wilson (ACL rupture, underwent surgery on May 25, expected to return in early. Dec). Ovechkin called them “the key players for us,” but noted that Washington’s newest additions have “experience and skill.” “We will also work hard and welcome them… We will play well.”
One of those new faces will be Stanley Cup champion goalkeeper Darcy Quimper. “Obviously we didn’t play much against him, but he [a] Last year’s Stanley Cup champion. When you have a strong goalkeeper, it gives you more chances to win.” He also added that it is good to have “experienced men on your team”.
Regarding Officense, The Great Eight said he was “good,” noting that he spent time with his family, went on vacation, and played some football. He said the summer passed quickly, but he was “happy to be back.”
Ovechkin didn’t do a lot of new training during his vacation time. “Every year we try to do something different – something more – but at the moment I’m very happy with what I’m like…You have to be 100% ready for bootcamp.”
The 37-year-old finished last season with 90 points in 77 games, of which 50 were goals. He is “at that age when personal goals are great”, but he realizes that every year he approaches the end of his career. Ovechkin still expresses his determination to carry that success from last season to this one: “I want to win. I want to be in the playoffs and fight for the cup.”
However, the Capitals captain repeated his daily routine as his 18th season approached: “I’ve always said it’s day in and day out. You can look forward to March. Today we finished the ski test – it’s a good thing. Tomorrow is going to be tough training, so we’ll start from there.” .
Ovechkin did not comment on who would replace Wilson as the right winger in the top line or who would take Backstrom’s place in the middle, noting that it was all up to coach Peter Laviollette. He said there will be “a great opportunity for different players to progress and mission.”
The Capitals have suffered four consecutive first-round playoffs since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. Feeling the urgency of the post-season, Ovechkin said having healthy players is key. He also explained that “the first twenty games are important” in terms of earning points for those accidental breakdowns that teams can face during the season. “You don’t want to play only six months. You want to play eight months and fight for the cup.”
Washington picked left winger Ivan Mirosnichenko with his first-round pick (#20 overall) in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in early July. Ovechkin described the young Russian as a ‘fantastic choice’ for the team and a ‘young player who could be’ [a] A star and can be good.” He has not yet spoken to Miroshnichenko, but according to Ovechkin, “we can talk to him at any time.” He wishes him well and hopes that Miroshnichenko will be in the capital next season.
Written by Della Young