Ovechkin has now passed Sergei Fedorov on the all-time scoring list among Russians and he did so in similar fashion to how Fedorov passed Alexander Mogilny to top the Russian charts seven years ago.
“I would like to congratulate Alex on this achievement,” Fedorov said. “What he has accomplished thus far in his career has been nothing short of remarkable. I had a great opportunity to play with Alex in Washington and have seen first-hand the respect, passion and enthusiasm he has not only for the game of hockey but for his country as well.”
But get this: Fedorov passed Mogilny by scoring his 474th career goal against the Dallas Stars in late October of 2008. And he did so thanks to an assistant from Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom.
Backstrom also assisted on Ovechkin’s record-setting marker, by the way.
“Sooner or later I knew it was going to go,” Ovechkin said. “Of course you get a little frustrated when you have good chances go, especially in the second [period] when I hit the post…I think it was an important goal for us – put us back in the game – but I think we deserved more today, at least a point.”
No other player has been more offensively dominant since Ovechkin entered the National Hockey League in 2005-2006. The 30-year-old has led the league in goals, points, power play goals, power play points, and game-winners. In his debut season, he scored 52 goals and added 54 assists. He’s never looked back.
The argument for best all-time Russian player is, as you might expect, a complicated one. Some swear by Anatoli Firsov, while others vow that Valeri Kharlamov is the greatest ever. Kharlamov and Firsov never laced the skates in the NHL, but they’re both always in the conversation. Kharlamov is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, while Firsov was also a fixture in international competition.
Goalie Vladislav Tretiak is also worth mentioning, as he pretty much dominated in the 1970s and 1980s. Once again, however, Tretiak never played in the NHL.
Perhaps the argument isn’t really whether Ovechkin belongs in that company now but rather if he will belong in that company when he puts the exclamation point on his career. While he may not be young by hockey standards, he still has more than a few years of hockey to play and will leave behind an indelible impression on the game. He’s a sure Hall of Famer and a sure bet as the best Russian player of all time.