Ever since Alex Ovechkin was labeled as the next Russian star, many were divided on the idea that Ovi could ever replace what Sergei Federov brought to the NHL and Russian hockey. Both, respectively, have changed the way hockey has been watched throughout the years and generations who’ve tuned in. However, with changing times, it’s become clear that Ovi is the best Russian player to skate in the NHL.
Federov Steals The Show in His Time
In this debate, context plays a giant role. To simplify it, we can take a look at the era of hockey each player has lived their career in. Federov, for example, played in a league where scoring was high for a majority of the players. If you were among the higher players who had a natural mind for the game, where you can play as a two-way-forward, yet still contribute offensively as if it was your only duty, you were set to be a legend.
Federov was that player. He was capable of playing in any situation on the ice, becoming one of the most complete players the league has ever seen. Federov captured three Stanley Cup Championships, a Hart Trophy, a Ted Lindsay Trophy, and two Selke Trophies. That’s a big resume, but the fact that he totaled 1179 points (483 goals, 696 assists) throughout his career while maintaining that is an even bigger reason why he was inducted to the hockey hall of fame in 2015.
Ovechkin Sets The Tone For Another Russian Legacy
Ovechkin, on the other hand, is in a whole different world. Ovi is playing in a world where your position is limited–group efforts are harder to achieve, and goals are harder to come by. In today’s NHL, also known as the salary cap era, you’re lucky enough to even get a shot at the Stanley Cup playoffs. There’s rarely any dynasties that see the light of day with the same core group as we’ve seen in the older days. We’ll give the Chicago Blackhawks an exception based on their changing rosters and bounce-back ‘Cups after every other year.
For Ovi, he’s had a rough ride. For the most part of his career, he’s been heavily focused on winning the Stanley Cup, but fell short every single time, until this year. During his career, Ovi has achieved many personal victories, such as the 2005-06′ Calder Memorial Trophy, three Ted Lindsay awards, the 2007-08′ Art Ross Trophy, three Hart Memorial trophies, seven Maurice Richard trophies, a Stanley Cup, and the 2018 Conn Smythe. Along the way, Ovi has dominated the Russian score sheet with 607 goals, becoming the highest scoring Russian player in history.
Now, where this debate takes off, and where it’s been for years, is about the drastic difference in team play between the two Russian superstars. For years, the only real argument Federov supporters had over Ovechkin was that he couldn’t lead his team to a Stanley Cup title. However, that argument is now gone. Even though it took him 13 years in the NHL to do it, it still makes up for all of those heartbreaking second-round losses. The 2017-18′ NHL season brought out a new side of Ovechkin that even Federov supporters are starting to see as well, and that is a more well-rounded goal scorer who has a bigger appreciation for what it means to play with a team like the Washington Capitals, and what it means when he gives it all for his teammates.
Ovechkin is only 32 years old and has more personal stats than Federov did at age 39. The only difference is that he has two less Stanley Cup championships to his name in a more difficult era. The future is never forgiving, but if Ovi keeps this passionate style of hockey and gratitude for the sport, he could surpass Federov in ‘Cup wins sooner than later.