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."
'Course, Ovie was actually using Hanlon as a example getting the best praise of his life. Without that info, that quotation says something really different.
It's kind of a weird quote - probably something lost in translation - but even in full context it speaks to a bit of an inconsistency and unpredictability in Hanlon's demeanor.
Thanks, JP! Appreciate your kind words. I've spend entire weekend translating, I am so tired. :-) But both interviews were so good that I had to deliver it to Caps fans.
As of Hanlon quote, even in Russian it was hard to understand what Alex meant. I think he was saying it was nice to hear the praise from Hanlon because it would come at completely random. One minute he'd shout at you, next moment he'd praise you.
I don't agree. Hanlon just sounds like a dozen other coaches I know--basically sparing the praise so when it comes, it's unexpected and extremely meaningful to the player. Which was Ovechkin's point.
Leaving out the first part of the quote, however, eliminates that idea and makes it seem like Ovechkin was ripping Hanlon, when his intention was the opposite.
I agree that Ovechkin was praising Hugs and have added the rest of the quote for a fuller context.
I said it on the message boards and I will say it here...I think it awesome that Ovie singles out Laing. I hope that Laing realizes how highly Ovie thinks of him. To me it also spoke volumes of the kind of values Ovie has himself, not too many pro athletes IMO would single out someone like Laing like that, and to me this is yet another example of how lucky we are to have Ovie on the Caps. I thank god everyday that we are so blessed to have someone like this on our team. Not only is he an incredible competitor, athlete, and talent he also is a stand up guy when interacting with fans, talking about his family/teammates/coaches etc. and the latter IMO is what makes him a superstar (example of opposite- Jagr).
All I have to say is that Ovie's parents did a fantastic job with that kid, they should (And I am sure they are) be very proud of him. I know I am proud of him!
I was pleasantly surprised at how grounded Semin seemed.
though someone should tell him that Eddie Jordan and Michael Jordan are not related...
Great interviews though
Does anyone else find it weird that Ovechkin describes a Truck as Schultz's "crappy ride?"
Most excellent pieces and thanks for the great interpretation. That's tough to do and I appreciate the time which went into it. Just a couple of remarks struck me:
1. Ovie was praising Hanlon, most definitely. What he had to say about Schultz's Truck was almost too funny. Maybe they don't drive pickup trucks in Russia?
2. The Semin interview was a great piece which allows the fans to see the man in a different light. Semin indicated he is pretty happy with Washington and living in this area, which is contrary to what we've heard: that he doesn't like the US, doesn't like our food, is completely lonely all the time, etc. etc. To hear that Semin is somewhat pleased to be here makes me feel better as a big fan of his. It also bodes well for keeping Semin in Washington for a long time to come.
TJ, thanks for translating all of that. It's great stuff. Really, thanks.
You know, I feel for Alex. I too want to build a Russian sauna in my NYC condo, but alas, those draconian fire codes prevent me from doing so. All that gives me respite is the Water Taxi Beach and PS1 warm up.
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