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Oates rooting for Ovechkin ‘Cinderella story’ at Winter Games

Feb 8, 2014, 9:49 AM EDT

Alex Ovechkin, Adam Oates AP

Everything Alex Ovehkin and Team Russia does during the Winter Games will be heavily scrutinized and criticized.

Anything short of a gold medal will be seen as a failure and, should they fall short, any misstep by Ovechkin along the way will become the center of attention. After all, he’s expected to be Russia’s hero, just like Sidney Crosby was for Canada in Vancouver.

With all that weight on his shoulder, Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates took him aside recently to offer him some advice. Oates reminded him that at the end of the day, this is a short tournament and in reality he’ll have very little direct control over most of it.

All Ovechkin can really do is focus on his own play.

“I said to him, ‘You’ve got to go over there and be the fastest, hard-working guy you can possibly be, because that’s what they’ll remember if something bad happens. If something good happens, great,” Oates said, according to CSN Washington. “It’s a Cinderella story. It’s a fairy tale, right? And that’s what we all hope for him.”

At the same time, that kind of success can’t be guaranteed, so first and foremost, Oates wants to make sure that win or lose, Ovechkin feels like he left it all on the ice.

It wasn’t too long ago that Ovechkin’s career seemed to be on the decline, but he’s bounced back since Oates took over as the head coach in Washington. Ovechkin has 40 goals in 54 contests going into tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

  1. capsfanone - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    I’m a Caps fan and I’m rooting for Ovi to show some allegiance to his team that is paying him almost $10 million a year. Love Ovi and his goals, but as Milbury stated the other night he is a one dimensional player.

    • joey4id - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      Why do you think Ovi can’t become a complete player under the guidance of Oates?

      • 19to77 - Feb 8, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        Mostly because Oates has been coaching him for two years and he still hasn’t learned how to backcheck. Seriously, he’s 1st out of 817 active players in goals scored, but 810th in plus-minus. It’s not the best stat for measuring defensive acumen – Chris Kunitz has a high plus-minus because he simply never starts in his own zone, not because he’s a good two-way player – but it tells us that despite Ovi being the best scorer in the entire game, he’s on the ice for more goals against than any other player. He is, and likely always will be, a defensive nightmare.

      • pfhockey - Feb 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        Adding on to what 19to77 said, The caps only have a differential of -7 in GF/GA. -19 is pretty ugly when you average .74 goals a game.

  2. joey4id - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    I suppose it’s the same advice Oates gave Ovi in WSH. “You’ve got to be the fastest, hard-working guy you can possibly be, because that’s what they’ll remember if something bad happens. If something good happens, great.” 40 goals in 54 games is bloody impressive. It’s ok if he’s great during his vacation in Sochi as long as it’s not great enough to take gold away from Canada. MVP to Ovi, gold to Canada. Just the way Ovi and Crosby want it.

  3. stunzeed5 - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Love Ovi as a diehard Caps fan….but love my COUNTRY more. Go USA, bring home the gold!!!

  4. nicofthenorthstar - Feb 8, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    Fastest? Hardest working? You are talking about Ovi, right? The best pure goal scorer alive, but if he is the hardest worker on your team, your doomed. He is a one dimensional player who needs players around him to do the heavy lifting and create opportunities and cover up for his lack of effort in areas other than scoring.

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