A week ago today, Alex Ovechkin celebrated his 28th birthday, firmly placing him in the prime of his career.
“Of course it’s hard (to) realize you’re getting older. And, of course, you always want to be 24, 23 years old,” Ovechkin told the Canadian Press via NHL.com. “But it’s impossible. So you just move on.”
As star players get older though, what they still have left to accomplish becomes increasingly more glaring. On an individual level, Ovechkin has a lot to be proud of. He’s won the Hart Trophy three times, more than any player with the notable exceptions of Eddie Shore, Gordie Howe, and Wayne Gretzky.
Those players have something else on Ovechkin too: They’ve all won the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Ovechkin has never gotten past the second round.
He’s not the only great player that still hasn’t raised Lord Stanley’s Mug. The Sedin twins in Vancouver are 32 and have fallen short, and the same can be said for 34-year-old forward Joe Thornton. But of the guys around Ovechkin’s age or older that are lacking a championship, Ovechkin is arguably the greatest player.
Washington is a team with the tools to succeed, but they have a lot of company in that regard. Still, a year ago, Ovechkin appeared to be in a slow downward spiral and, with the help of new coach Adam Oates, he’s going into this season looking like an elite once more. Perhaps Oates can help Ovechkin and Washington make that final push.