When an organization’s rookies take part in their camp in the week ahead of the main club’s training camp, it’s a good way for the coaches to see just what they’ve got going on depth-wise with the team.
Picture what would happen if the rookies got out on the ice and had the big team’s captain out there joining them in drills. That’s what happened Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Virginia today as the Caps rookies were joined by none other than Alex Ovechkin. Getting an appearance from the superstar captain is a stunning surprise and one that Caps coach Bruce Boudreau tells CSNWashington’s Chuck Gormley he was happy to see.
“Alex wanted to get a little bit of a skate in,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “If I’m a young guy and I see a man like that on the ice, it’s a pretty big wow factor.”
Boudreau said he remembers having a similar experience when he was a rookie in Toronto in the mid-1970s and he shared the ice with Darryl Sittler for the first time. It was the same feeling he had when he attended a hockey school with Bobby Orr as a teen-ager.
“I was pretty in awe,” he said.
Ovechkin spent the previous three days in New York and Newark, N.J., promoting the NHL’s 2011-12 season and asked Boudreau if he could get some ice time with the rookies.
“To see him take direction like he did and do what he was supposed to be doing without any airs about him, maybe that had something to do with how hard they worked,” Boudreau said.
That sounds like a guy leading the way as a captain and showing the kids the way it’s supposed to be done.
Ovechkin has gotten grief from all sorts of fans and onlookers about how he doesn’t appear to do the prototypical captain-like things on the ice or even in the locker room. It seems unfair to make those criticisms, yet they persist. Ovechkin showing up today unprovoked and working with the rookies even for just part of the time speaks like a guy that embraces being a leader.
Ovechkin’s role as a captain is one that’s always going to draw attention and as long as the Capitals aren’t advancing past the second round of the playoffs, it’ll bring heat that he’s going to have to take. With the moves the Caps have made this offseason and how they’ve tightened things up defensively, the Caps are built to be a winner and built to go deep in the playoffs.
With high expectations comes a lot of pressure and not just for Ovechkin but Boudreau as well. Seeing Ovechkin doing things like this, however, shows that he’s not just dedicated to making it work in the short term, but also for those that may one day be his teammates in Washington.