A huge tip - no, doffing - of the hat to our friend TJ at the Alex Ovetjkin blog for translating and posting two lengthy interviews, one with each of the Caps' Alexes, that would be must-reads during the season, but are more or less life-sustaining this time of year.
Some highlights from the Alex Ovechkin interview:
On Glen Hanlon: "[It is nice] when you don't expect good words from a man and he starts to praise you. One example would be Hanlon, our former head coach in Washington. At one moment he is shouting at you and tells you that you are doing everything wrong, the very next moment he calls you the best. One could never guess.... Hanlon is a surprising person. It was a great pleasure to work with him. It is a pity it didn't work out for him in Washington."Really, there's much, much more there, so make sure to set aside some time to read it and the Alex Semin interview, which includes these nuggets:
On his teammate whose "inner strength surprises" him: "We all have character, all of us. But the most unusual is [Quintin] Laing. He blocks shots, any shots. Sometimes it is impossible even to imagine, is he going to block this one too? A charismatic fellow. He'd never make into NHL, if not his heroism."
On his teammate with the crappiest ride: "Perhaps Jeffrey Schultz. He drives a strange vehicle that looks like a minivan, but it is two seated and has an open trunk. I've learned that his rattletrap cost eight thousand dollars."
On the best player in the NHL: "At the moment? I'd select Pasha Datsyuk. This is a player I like for a very long time. He has the best hands."You get the point. I'm going to stop writing now and you're going to go read these two interviews. See you back here in a bit.
On his future: "I am not a fan of changing the environment. I am such a person that I am satisfied with everything in Washington. Never thought about leaving."
On his 2007-08 season: "At first my season started as a failure. I was injured. I didn't play for 2.5 months. And then everything went on. When there were 15 games left before the playoffs, I started to get in shape. And the worlds were later. I peaked. And it all got together."
On whether Ovechkin changed after signing his huge contract: "After he signed it he became more motivated or something, I don't know... he started playing much better to be honest. He became more mean, aggressive. But outside of the game he was the same person as before, friendly, sociable."