By Allan Muir
The timing of Alex Ovechkin’s long-hyped appearance on NBC’s Today Show could have been better. Like, for instance, not on a day when the lead story centered around a credible terrorist threat to attack the Sochi Games. Or maybe not when Ovechkin’s Capitals are mired in a five-game losing streak. But Ovi made the best of it, staying in New York after a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Rangers on Sunday to get up way too early, wait around the green room forever and spend three minutes with B-host Carson Daly (instead of Matt Lauer, as promised) chatting about the Olympics.
Washington’s star sniper wasn’t at his ebullient best, but he handled himself well in the brief exchange. “I think everybody wants to win gold medals, especially playing [in our] home country,” he said of the pressure on Team Russia to win the tournament. “I’m sure every hockey player, every man, every fan in Russia wants to win. But, you know, it’s going to be hard because every [country has] a strong team.”
Ovechkin also addressed the security concerns that athletes are facing. “I don’t think it’s going to be dangerous,” he said. “I think as President Putin said, we have security, but I’m sure everything’s going to be fine and everybody’s going to have a good time.”
All told, it wasn’t much air time, but any opportunity to get one of the NHL’s stars in front of a new audience — probably one that normally has only a casual interested in the game — justifies the league’s participation in the Olympics.