Ovechkin finally breaks through Stanley Cup wall

Chris Russell
June 07, 2018 - 11:24 pm
Alex Ovechkin

Photo courtesy of the Washington Capitals

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Finally! The “C” on Alexander Ovechkin’s chest does not just stand for his role as Capitals' Captain. Now, for the first time in his brilliant and illustrious hall-of-fame career, it stands for CHAMPION!

One thousand and three regular season games, 121 playoff games, 106 games total in this magical run of 2017-2018 and finally – there’s nothing left to question anymore. There’s no mountain left to climb and no destiny that has gone unfilled.

The Washington Capitals, led by their Captain, Alex Ovechkin, have just won their first Stanley Cup Championship in the franchise’s history by defeating the expansion Western Conference Champion, Vegas Golden Knights.

Some will try to question and say that Ovechkin and the Capitals had it easier than others. No, they did not.

They won 16 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The same as everyone else did, every other year. The same as the Penguins did in any of Sidney Crosby’s championship runs.

It doesn’t matter the circumstances.

Finally, the best trophy in sports and the hardest to earn by far – belongs to the Washington Capitals for the next calendar year and forever. It’s finally Alex Ovechkin’s to hoist and carry and sleep with, or quite honestly, do whatever the hell he wants with.

The memories. The moment. The anguish. The joy. The sweat. The tears. The emotions. The happiness. It’s everything and NOBODY can take that away from the Capitals, from Ovechkin or from you.

Ovechkin was selected No. 1 overall in 2004 out of Moscow. He has grown and overcome. He has hit bumps in the road along the way. His leadership and his commitment has been questioned. His all-around game has been called out.

Some of those criticisms, quite honestly, were more than fair. He knew it, even though he would never admit it. His head coach knows it, even though he at times would awkwardly criticize those criticisms.

That same coach, Barry Trotz, and his general manager, Brian MacLellan said before this season that they needed more out of Ovechkin at 5-on-5 situations.

They got it. They said they needed their leader to play a more all-around game. They got it and then some. They got an Alex Ovechkin tired of being labeled as a failure and a bad leader.

Instead, Ovechkin was determined to use his unique gifts of scoring huge goals (Game 2 and Game 3 vs Vegas, Game 7 vs. Tampa, Game 3 vs. Pittsburgh, Game 5 vs. Las Vegas) but was also more determined to lead by example. Blocking shots, hustling back to help on defense, clearing pucks, never accepting an excuse.

In other words, the Capitals received both the talent and the leader that they always thought they had in Ovechkin but could never fully tap into. Until now. NOW. 

They cracked the code. He finally figured out how to solve the greatest mystery of all. The Rubix cube of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even though there is always more to do and to accomplish, never again, can he be mentioned in the category of the greatest ones never to get over the hump and win it all.

Make no mistake – that’s very important. It’s an absurd notion if you think that it wasn’t.

You are judged in professional sports two ways. Individual greatness and team success/accomplishments.

Nobody ever questioned Ovechkin’s individual brilliance and now, nobody can ever question the other element.

Because, finally at the age of 32, after more than 1,100 combined NHL games, the “C” in OveChkin also stands for champion. The “C” in Capitals for at least the next year and really in annals of NHL history, stands for champions.

Together, they climbed the mountain together and finally reached the peak.

 

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