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Olympic hockey: Catching up with Mike Milbury, Peter Bondra, Alex Ovechkin

Here's a hockey update from Sport-Express' Slava Malamud, who will be blogging for us throughout the Games:

Lots of Washington's heroes and villains were on hand in Day One of the Olympic men's hockey tournament and I was able to catch up with one of each.

First, NBC's own Mike Milbury, made infamous among Capitals fans for his remarks during the recent Caps-Penguins game, agreed to clarify his thoughts on the Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby rivalry.

"No, it's not true" that I have a preference, Milbury said. "I think both of them are unbelievable players. It's just that Crosby has the Stanley Cup and this is the difference. But Ovechkin has been working hard and it looks like his team may be headed there, too.

"Without a doubt, Ovechkin's approach to life is more fun-loving," than Crosby's, he added. "And his approach to hockey, too. He always has a smile on his face and he attracts people to himself. Crosby is a professional, he says all the diplomatic things. But you know what? Good for both of them. I know they make a lot of money, but I wouldn't want to be in their place and deal with what they have to deal with."

The former Caps great Peter Bondra, in his capacity as Slovakia's general manager, was overseeing his team's practice and seemed unable to stop talking about the Russians. Which is not surprising, considering that Bondra himself is Soviet-born, speaks fluent Russian and, according to some rumors, was once under consideration by coaches of the USSR national team despite living in Czechoslovakia (Bondra himself points out that he never stood a chance).

Bondra said that beating Russia in Vancouver is his team's "dream" and that he is pleased that his Caps scoring record will be broken by someone like Ovechkin. He also reminisced on the time he was Alexander Semin's roommate, back when the young Russian was just starting in Washington. Sasha's fun-loving ways apparently have a long history.

"I remember that he would always come in late, which was a little annoying," Bondra said. "I eventually told him that if he wants to keep doing that, he'll have to pay for his own hotel room."

As for Russia's opening game against Latvia, Ovechkin, who scored twice, said he was quite pleased with his own and the team's performance.

"It wasn't like we needed much more" in this game, Ovechkin said. "We have won the game and this is all we need. ... I wasn't aiming for a hat trick and wasn't even thinking about it, to be honest. There was a good scoring chance [in the third period] when I passed, trying to make sure Semin scores. He gave me a beautiful pass [earlier] and I wanted to return the favor."

Pavel Datsyuk, who the previous day half-jokingly bemoaned his fate of playing between two extremely fast wingers, this time was philosophical. "I am trying to take shortcuts," said the center with his famous sly smile.

Coach Slava Bykov heaped some metaphorical praise on Ovechkin, calling him "a nuclear power plant" due to his energy infusion into the team. Curiously enough, the interpreters at the news conference, who did a summarily poor job, couldn't handle this phrase, turning out "an atomic station." But we are here to set the record straight. Alex Ovechkin, says The Washington Post, is a nuclear power plant! Let's get ready for a meltdown.

varlamov.jpg

Semyon Varlamov finding his role as the third-stringer a bit less lonely in the company of the legend, Vladislav Tretiak. (Photo by Slava Malamud)

By Slava Malamud  |  February 17, 2010; 9:39 AM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin , Ice hockey , Vancouver 2010  
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Comments

I wish Mike Milbury would encounter a bear or a moose up in the Canadian wild. His comments during Team Canada's game against Norway was blatantly derogatory. We get it, Sidney was given the Stanley Cup. Yeah, we know, the Capitals are gonna' have to work extra harder than everyone else to even make it to the Stanley Cup finals, given the number of people sucking on the teat that is Sidney Crosby. We're okay with that but given the way we've schooled Crosby and the Penguins on how to play hockey, the least Mr. Milbury could do is not be so ignorant to what the Capitals are accomplishing. Milbury is like the football captain, 30 years out of high school and hasn't accomplished squat, boasting about his touchdowns to people who don't give a flying frig. The Capitals welcome the challenge of getting to the Stanley Cup and winning it, if only to shut your piehole, Milbury, and that of the pompous buffoon that is Don "I need attention and it's obvious" Cherry.

Let's go Team Russia. Best of luck, Team USA.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | February 17, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

We need to get some kind of chant going against Milbury the next time he covers a game in D.C. This guy is a bias A-hole. It's no surprise a guy that cannot do his job well likes someone like Crosby.

Great post other than one thing. GO USA WIN GOLD! Russia for silver! Sweeden for Bronze!

Posted by: Mike4169 | February 17, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Milbury is unbiased? Yeah, and I'm pregnant with Ovi's lovechild!!

Posted by: OvechkinFan92801 | February 17, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

LeftCoast you sound like a real whiny b**ch
You're such a nauseating cheerleader. When you start on your little soapbox I can almost hear the cheesy music playing in the background. I love how you get your panties so bunched up anytime you hear someone give Crosby some praise. Are you really that easy to annoy? simpleton

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 17, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

the easiest way to revel in Milbury's misery is to go over to dropyourgloves.com and watch all the vids of him getting his butt kicked in every fight he ever got into :)

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 17, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Milbury is a tool but good thing Jeremy Roenick is there to balance things out. In a perfect world the USA will win the gold, Russia the silver and Sweden will take the Bronze. I hope team Canada finishes last because they did not think Mike Green was a good fit for their team.

What's wrong with the Olympics?
http://www.turnersportsdesk.com/2010/02/What-happened-to-the-Olympics.aspx

Posted by: A-Contrario | February 18, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Milbury and Roenick's on-air bickering is annoying.

Posted by: Hristos77 | February 18, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

yay! GOOO, TEAM! looks like cstanton1 was let out of his shift and Mickey D's early. Good for you. By the way, I'm not wearing your cheerleading outfit you sent. Sick perv.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | February 18, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and for the record, cstanton1, we all still can't stand you. Keep yammerin'. No one is listening. My sympathies you have nothing better to do than pretend you're smarter than everybody when it comes to hockey. I bet you were a bed wetter, huh?

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | February 18, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

What is up with Mike Milbury's man crush on Sidney Crosby? How is it that Milbury knows the name of every player on 'Crosby's team' and only gets enthusiastic about them making moves. He has no idea who is on the other team and gives them no credit when a phenomenal play is made. It's not only him, a couple other NBC commentators only know east coast hockey from Pennsylvania on up too.

Posted by: ccraneowen | February 19, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

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