A Combination of Santa Claus, Superman and Peter Pan

When I was growing up, Larry Bird was by far my favorite athlete. His capacity for heroics, it often seemed, was limitless. I’ve celebrated that love affair here and here.

When I became a man I put away childish things. But as any adult knows, sports are anything but childish.

Over the years, I’ve admired and adored a great many athletes, including Olaf Kolzig, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez and (semi) hometown hero Cal Ripken Jr. But there has not been a single athlete, since Bird, who has so regularly made me giddy, proud and more than occasionally ecstatic.

Which brings me to Alexander Ovechkin, the man who is quite possibly the best leader on any sports team right now. In fact, he’s quickly making a case for being the best athlete in any sport (and I say that knowing the world is currently graced by geniuses named Kobe, Lebron, Peyton and Pujols). I have never seen a player carry a team so consistently, so willingly, so happily.

Above everything else, I cherish Alexander Ovechkin for the way he is able to make me feel like a little kid almost every time I watch him. And like all the truly elite players of any era, he elevates his game and rises to the occasion when the stakes ae highest and the lights brightest.

D.C. is slowly and steadily beginning to realize (the hockey fans –all ten of us– knew right away) that he is a once-in-a-lifetime type franchise player that you can, and should, build a dynasty around. Surpassing Caps fans’ highest expectations, Leonsis, McPhee and Co. have done exactly that. Like Bird, Ovie has taken a joke of a team and turned it around almost single handedly. That, along with the depth of an excellent farm system, has stocked this team with young, hungry and extremely capable players. To this point Ovie has done everything: Rookie of the Year, MVP, scoring leader. Everything except hoisting the Stanley Cup (that may well have happened last year had it not been for eternal Achilles Heel the Pittsburgh Penguins). Is this going to be the year? Maybe. Not for nothing are the Capitals the team with the most points in the NHL, an achievement this organization has never experienced this late in a season. They are, in my estimation, one surly and veteran defenseman away from being the team to beat this spring (trade deadline acquisition?), but whether they do it this year or not, it is all but a certainty that they will be contenders for the forseeable future. Imagine that! Any fan of any team, in almost any city, knows not to take this for granted. After the empty and sobering stretch of futility our teams have suffered since the Redskins last got a ring (January 1992!), many local sports fans know enough to celebrate this good fortune.

All of that would almost be academic if Ovechkin was not so exhilarating to watch. He doesn’t just win (!), he does so in dramatic and often inimitable fashion. Just look at what he did today, against arch-nemesis Pittsburgh, to keep the winning streak alive (!!). This is not a man we are watching anymore; he has become a combination of Santa Claus, Superman and Peter Pan. I’m a grown man and have learned not to hope for the impossible or pray for divine intervention. Fortunately, the player who may end up being the best athlete ever keeps giving us all things we don’t even think to ask for.



  1. I believe Alexander Ovechkin will go down as the best sports star that the city of Washington has ever produced. The one concern I have about Ovie is that his style of play may hurt him in the long run, as going balls to the wall can only work for so long. His minutes on the ice are also a matter of concern but expect him to win or be in contention for the MVP for at least the next six to seven years before his body begins to break down. I pray to god that the city of Washington gets to see a championship in the form of the stanley cup, because ovie and the boys are the only championship material that is to be found in Washington. I’m glad someone besides myself has found a true demi god in the sports mantra known to all as Alex Ovechkin. Thank You and I really enjoy your blog as well.

  2. Nicki Oraee says:

    Until i found the solace in the 4th major north american sport, i had almost given up on Washington sports all together. There are so many things wrong with the redskins, the wizards can never catch a break and are now overhauling their entire team, and well baseball is not my thing. I used to get so excited watching the Wizards win 40+ games a season and make the playoffs. I felt a little betrayed as a fan when after winning 40+ games a season for a few years, they only won 19 last year, and of course Gilbert’s stupidity. I was about to give up on team sports, but then i saw a glimmer of hope. The caps were playing the rangers in the first round of the stanley cup playoffs last year, and the way the caps fought back from a 3-1 hole to win the series showed me that there is hope for DC sports. I was never into hockey, but the Ovechkin led Capitals have won me over. I have watched every single game this year which is something i never did even during the pinnacle years of my wizards fascination. the way ovi can turn the game around with the flick of his wrist, or by a curl and drag, will never cease to amaze me. he is truly a human highlight real and will go down as the greatest DC athlete of all time. If he can stay healthy, he may even slip into discussion for being the greatest hockey player of all time. Ovi will definitely be a perennial MVP and will bring DC the championships it so longs for. Hopefully, this will be this year. The capitals have brought the excitement back into watching sports and have definitely transformed DC into a hockey town. Who knew that only a few decades removed from the cold war, the nations capital would be under the spell of a Russian.

  3. Sean Murphy says:

    Nicki and Gordon:

    I love hearing other fans celebrate our good fortune to have a once-in-a-lifetime player like Ovechkin playing in OUR city. If it’s not this year, it seems safe to assume he will help the Caps hoist a Stanley Cup at least one time before his playing days are over!

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