This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
1. Alexander Ovechkin (642)
2. Peter Bondra (384)
3. Rod Langway (176)
4. Olaf Kolzig (153)
5. Mike Gartner (120)
6. Dale Hunter (102)
It’s easy to get lost in all the drama that surrounds the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin – especially after a rough season for both the player and team – and lose track of the fact that No. 8 is having a special career in D.C.
Peter Bondra finished second place in voting and seems primed to be second place all-time in franchise scoring soon; he has 825 points in 961 games with Washington while Ovechkin already has 814 in just 679. Since Ovechkin came into the league in 2005-06, he leads all scorers with 422 goals and 814 points. (He blows everyone else away by more than 100 goals and no one else cracked the 800-point barrier during that span.)
Really, it’s telling that the 28-year-old still easily scored more goals (51) than anyone else during a 2013-14 campaign that was basically a personal nightmare.
Ultimately, those eye-popping numbers tend to inspire harsher criticisms. When you seemingly can score at will, it makes people think that any disappointment can be placed on his shoulders rather than the failings of the team around him.
Ovechkin lost an opportunity for patriotic glory in Sochi, but he has plenty of time to silence his doubters by bringing the Capitals their first-ever Stanley Cup. Either way, it’s difficult to deny that he’s already been the most important player in the franchise’s history.