Does anyone in the NHL have more fun on the ice than the Great 8? I think not. The man knows how to work an arena; just ask the crowd of 21,000+ at Bell Centre in Montreal last night. Never one to take himself (or anyone else, for that matter) too seriously, Ovi stole the show during the Breakaway Challenge with his antics. Midway through his allotted one minute, Ovi skated over to none other than Evgeni Malkin, donned sunglasses and a floppy hat, picked up a second stick and skated back to center. As he sailed down the ice toward the goal, he threw out his own stick and scored with a left shot. He seemed rather impressed with himself afterward.
The fans were obviously impressed as well. Ovi received 42% of the votes (fans voted by text message), winning the Breakaway Challenge for the second year in a row. If you missed it, check out the video.
Fans familiar with Alex Ovechkin weren't surprised to see his personality on display in Montreal; in fact, they've grown accustomed to it. It's apparent Ovi not only understands how important fans are to the NHL, he thrives on their participation. He incorporates an unrivaled level of showmanship to his play. He frequently slams himself into the glass in celebration after scoring a goal. He waves his hands in the air to encourage the fans to cheer. Heck, he even likes getting booed, saying it pushes him harder. As long as the fans are engaged and having a good time, that's the way Ovi likes it.
Ovi demonstrates his awesome personality off the ice as well. In 2006, he started a program called Ovi's Crazy 8s. Each year Ovi purchases eight season tickets and donates them to the Most Valuable Kids program, which distributes them to soldiers and their families or to children in low-income or underserved households.
With his amazing talent and enthusiasm for the game, Ovi's future knows no bounds, and Capitals fans will surely enjoy watching it unfold before their eyes. Those lucky enough to see him play in person will certainly have many stories to tell future generations.