[Thanks to Tuvanhillbilly for passing along this translation of Slava Malamud's Sport-Express interview with Alex Ovechkin set to publish tomorrow.]
Alexander Ovechkin: "It Would Be More Interesting To Play for Europe Against North America"
Slava Malamud, Washington
It was with some difficulty that Washington fans accepted the fact that Ovechkin was the only one from their team heading to the All Star game in Montreal. Here in the capital city of the United States it was considered both disdainful and an injustice. Even Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t just stand idly by, giving his own expert opinion on the selection process. But team owner Ted Leonsis, whom I met with after one of the home games, takes a philosophical stance. "It doesn’t mean anything to me" said Ted. "I can’t worry about anything else but the Stanley Cup." Alexander Semin also wasn’t very offended that he didn’t make the Eastern Conference team. He has missed a lot of games due to injuries and was happy to get a little holiday.
But it seems that Alexander Ovechkin, who gave an interview to SE on just this topic, has been able to get used to the All Star game. And truth be told, there are going to be a lot of them in his life. In any case, Alexander has already learned how to start some intrigue. In answer to all questions about which trick he has prepared for the skills competition, Ovechkin answers with his well-known cunning smile "It is a big secret".
Did it bother you in any way that you didn’t make the starting lineup?
"Of course not, why would it? The main thing is just being there. I would have been very glad to be in the starting lineup, but there is nothing to be done about that."
And the fact that you are the only one chosen from Washington?
"Now this, in my opinion, is very bad, because Sema should be there. Backy and Green also played well and are deserving. But that is just the way it is."
What did you think about the fan voting, which allowed hackers and other maniacs to make the decision of the starting lineup?
"There is nothing you can do about it. The fans should choose, and they choose any way they can. People try—they call on the phone, they sit at the computer, and this should count for something."
What do you think about the "East vs. West" format? Wouldn’t you prefer to play in a game such as "Europe vs. North America", like it used to be in the NHL and how it was this year in the KHL?
"Now that is an interesting idea. I think it would be more interesting than the East versus the West. I’m sure there would be a lot more motivation. But you play just for joy of playing. It is what it is."
How much of a real hockey game is the All-Star game?
"To a greater degree it is, of course, a show. There aren’t any hard hits, and everybody tries to do something special. But all the same it is fun to participate. A packed house, a big hullabaloo around all the players. It gets you cranked up."