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.
February 17, 2010; 9:39 AM ET
Categories: Alex Ovechkin , Ice hockey , Vancouver 2010
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