Feb 8, 2014, 9:49 AM EDT
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.
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