Alex Ovechkin exposes corruption in Russian hockey during candid interview

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Alexovechsaycheese.jpgBelieve it or not, interview translations aren’t useful solely for generating arguments about plagiarism.

Take, for instance, Dmitry Chesnokov’s translation of a surprisingly candid Alex Ovechkin interview from sports.ru. While there is plenty of intriguing stuff about Ovechkin finding his shot (his father made him aim his shot at “a certain number of cans” before he could socialize with buddies) and how he feels about the playoffs, it’s the stuff about Russian hockey that could very well make waves.

I’ll start with the most eyebrow-raising fodder in which Ovechkin details the allegedly bribe-driven world of Russian hockey.

“When I was young, there were no people who came up and said: ‘Here’s the money for you, play my son, let him play and enjoy. And then we’ll see.’ This is the worst. It’s in the clubs, in national teams — it’s the same everywhere. And when I started playing for the national team, it was happening. Two, three people were there who “had a pull.” But now there are more of them. Unfortunately, in Russia money decides everything.”

In Russia money decides everything? Well, at least Ronald Reagan would be proud. (Too soon?)

Ovechkin also makes little doubt that, despite some considerable progress, the NHL is still the league of dreams rather than the KHL.

“Of course, to play in the NHL is a dream. You can go to any youth sports school and ask those who train there — everyone will say that they dream of the NHL. There cannot even be a talk about comparing the two leagues. The KHL right now is moving in the right direction, raising up a little, but there is no point to compare the leagues. Let them call me names, call me a traitor, but this is true.”

If these interviews are any indication, many European hockey players have a lot more to say that the language barrier will allow (or they just don’t want to provide “bulletin board” material, either). He might take a little heat for the comments back home, but kudos to Ovechkin for speaking his mind. It’s a great – and unfortunately rare – thing to see.