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The behind-the-scenes story of Alexander Ovechkin's phenomenal rise from Russian athletic prodigy to NHL superstar
Having signed the most lucrative contract in NHL history with the Washington Capitals, Alexander Ovechkin, at 24, is an undisputed hockey legend. In the mold more of a rock star than hockey player, Ovechkin courts the limelight, is never shy with his opinions, and, in a sport that thrives on the collective culture of the team-Ovechkin is an iconoclast who flouts convention, while loving the game. In The Ovechkin Project, veteran hockey writers Damien Cox and Gare Joyce trace his elite sports pedigree, his role representing Russia in the World Juniors, and how since entering the NHL, he's taken his team from worst to first in their division, and the hockey world by storm.
A candid look at one of the most charismatic figures in hockey today, The Ovechkin Project offers an inside, little-known look at Ovechkin himself, the makings of his spectacular on-ice talent, and the Great 8's meteoric rise to the world stage of professional sports.
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When Alexander Ovechkin arrived in Washington in 2005, he was not a franchise player in the making—he was already a fully-formed superstar. In his first NHL game he scored two goals, including the winner in a shoot-out. Halfway through his rookie season he scored “The Goal,” considered by many the most spectacular goal of all time, one that left onlookers, including Wayne Gretzky, speechless.
He has been a First Team NHL All-Star in every season he has played, and he has collected a slew of most valuable player awards and scoring titles. He lifted a hardluck franchise into the league’s elite and, maybe more impressively, profitability after decades of red ink. For all this, he was awarded the biggest contract in league history: a deal that will pay him $124-million across 13 seasons.
Driven by a hard-as-steel mother who won two Olympic gold medals, supported by his father who gave up his job to dedicate himself to his son’s career when he was still a teenager, inspired by his older brother who died young, and a product of a rich Soviet/Russian hockey heritage, Ovechkin is a generational talent—a gifted athlete with unmatched passion. He routinely does the impossible on the ice and is not afraid to hit and be hit. In a dangerous game, he is the most dangerous player.
Going into his fifth season, Ovechkin seemed to have it all—fame, fortune, fast cars—but he was still seeking the game’s greatest rewards: an Olympic gold medal and a Stanley Cup championship. The previous spring he had seen his bitter rival, Sidney Crosby, captain Pittsburgh to a Stanley Cup and his countryman Evgeni Malkin win the Conn Smythe Award as the best player in the Penguins’ playoff run. At age 25, at the prime of his life, Ovechkin was on a quest for championships and he faced challenges, some from likely sources—Crosby and a star-studded Canadian Olympic squad—and others from unlikely ones, a journeyman goaltender and an underdog Montreal Canadiens team. The Ovechkin Project takes a probing look at the game’s most dangerous player in the most tumultuous and difficult season of his phenomenal career. This unauthorized biography tells the story of hockey’s brightest star and more. It goes behind the scenes with those who made him into a unique talent, those who are on the business ends of his bodychecks and paychecks, and those who see him as friend, teammate, captain and their best shot at glory. It’s the story of a league desperate for a cross-over star and a young talent desperate to be something more than the game’s best player. The Ovechkin Project is the definitive account of the life and times of hockey’s most important player.About the Author:
DAMIEN COX is a writer/broadcaster based in Toronto. He is an award-winning columnist with the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper. Over the past 25 years, few journalists have covered the biggest stories in hockey around the world to the extent he has, from the NHL to the Olympics to women’s hockey. He has been a fixture on TSN, Canada’s all-sports television network, and the FAN 590, the country’s largest all-sports radio network, since the mid-1990s. In addition to his columns, he is the author of The Spin, a daily sports blog published on TheStar.com. He is the co-author of two other hockey books published by Wiley, ’67: The Maple Leafs, their Sensational Victory and the End of an Empire and Brodeur: Beyond the Crease, a collaboration with record-setting goaltender Martin Brodeur. A proud native of Hamilton, Cox lives in Toronto with his wife, Vicki, and four children, Meghann, Delaney, Dawson and Leagh.
GARE JOYCE has written about sports since the early ’80s and for ESPN The Magazine and espn.com since 2003. He has had breakfast with Sidney Crosby before the phenom had a driver’s license, lunch with King Clancy at the Hot Stove Lounge and an uncomfortable dinner at McDonald’s where he spilled his milkshake in the lap of a seven-foot NBA center. Between meals, he has written four books, The Only Ticket off the Island: Baseball in the Dominican Republic, When the Lights Went Out: How One Brawl Ended Hockey’s Cold War and Changed the Game, Future Greats and Heartbreaks: A Year Undercover in the Secret World of NHL Scouts, and a best-selling biography of Crosby. His work has been short-listed for The Best American Sports Writing series seven times and he has won four Canadian national magazine awards. He is a lifelong Torontonian, a doting father to Ellen and Laura and a deeply committed partner to the writer Susan Bourette.
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