The Washington Post has an extensive story today trying to figure out just what’s going wrong with Alex Ovechkin. He’s mired in what’s the worst season of his career while the Capitals are struggling to make the playoffs.
In the extensive look at what’s going on with him on and off the ice, Post writers Rick Maese and Tarik El-Bashir find out a few things from players and those who wished to speak anonymously in order to be candid:
— 2010 might’ve been the turning point in his career and life. First, the loss to Canada in the Olympics, then being suspended for a hit from behind on Brian Campbell, followed by losing to Montreal in the first round of the playoffs. All three things combined to hurt his mental state on the game.
— Ovechkin’s friendship with fellow young stars Mike Green, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom has changed over the years. What used to be a tight-knit friendship has seen the four of them all grow apart. Hey, getting older stinks that way.
— Ovechkin’s close relationship with his parents, notably his mother Tatiyana, appears to have rankled some in the organization. From handling his contract negotiations to being involved in his personal life, they feel his mother is too involved in his goings on.
“That’s his biggest problem — his mom,” said a person familiar with the situation. “She did what she did for Alex. She played a huge part in his growth, in his career. But it went too far. I understand it’s family, I understand they’re very close — it’s not that. The question is: Is he ever going to grow up? I’m not only talking about hockey. She’s in his life in many other areas — relationships with girls, with friends, with everyone. It’s bizarre.”
— Oddly enough, Ovechkin is sensitive to what’s being said about him. Former Caps PR man and current interim head of College Hockey, Inc. Nate Ewell says: “He reads message boards. He knows what people say about him. He’s very cognizant of that stuff.”
The entire story is well worth the read to dig in more, but it paints the picture of a superstar stuck in a frustrating situation on a mediocre team for the time being. It’s sad to read of Ovechkin’s struggles but also curious at the quotes given by those who chose to remain nameless. There’s a lot more going on in Washington that isn’t being told.