WASHINGTON – Once he secured the endorsement of his teammates, Alex Ovechkin agreed to become the Washington Capitals’ team captain.
“I’m going to do my best,” Ovechkin said after the Capitals’ 4-2 victory over Montreal on Tuesday night. “I’m very happy and very excited.”
Ovechkin took the ice for Tuesday’s home game against Montreal wearing the captain’s “C” on his red sweater. He was chosen by Capitals vice-president George McPhee and coach Bruce Boudreau, who informed the team of their decision Tuesday morning.
Before extending the offer, however, Boudreau polled the Capitals – at Ovechkin’s insistence.
“I said to Bruce right away, ‘If you want me to be captain, ask the guys if they want me to be the captain,”‘ Ovechkin said.
Boudreau got positive feedback.
“He’s been the face of the franchise for a long time and it’s well-deserved and well-earned,” defenceman Tom Poti said.
Added forward Tomas Fleischmann: “We wanted it to be him to be captain.”
The 24-year-old Ovechkin becomes the 14th captain in team history and is Washington’s first European-born captain. He has served as one of the Capitals’ alternate captains since his second NHL season, and replaces Chris Clark, who was traded to Columbus on Dec. 28.
Ovechkin, the two-time defending Hart Trophy winner as the NHL’s most valuable player, leads the Capitals with 26 goals and 50 points. The Moscow native becomes the sixth Russian-born player to captain an NHL club and he and Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk are the only active Russians to serve as team captains.
When Ovechkin took the ice for pregame warmups, there was no outward sign of the captaincy, other than the “C” that had replaced an “A” on his jersey. Ovechkin assumed his regular position along the far boards for stretching exercises and an announcement displayed on the scoreboard about his new role drew polite applause.
During pregame introductions, the news was repeated by a public address announcer and a much larger crowd roared with approval.
Boudreau said he would find someone else to organize team functions and charity work, some of the duties at which Clark excelled during his three years as captain.
“Ovie’s taking care of the ice. That’s what Ovie’s going to do,” Boudreau said.