Feb 6 2014, 5:59pm CST | by Poch de la Rosa
This is precisely what Ovechkin told the official 2014 Winter Olympics website on Feb. 6:
"Hockey superstar Alexander Ovechkin is eager to win a first Olympic medal in Sochi and silence the critics who savaged the Russian team after Vancouver. Russia crashed out of the 2010 Olymoics at the quarterfinal stage, hammered 7-3 by a Canadian side starring Sidney Crosby.
"'It is impossible to forget about the quarterfinal against the Canadians when we were defeated 3-7,' said Ovechkin.
"'We need to forget the horror of Vancouver in order to move forward. And now I am only thinking about Sochi,' Ovechkin said."
His focus on Sochi is so intense, he tends to get sidetracked a bit.
"They (the Capitals) have seen their superstar, the top-goal scorer in the NHL this season by a wide margin, miss a mid-January practice to do the 'Today' show. They have seen him spend an off-day shadowed by an NBC camera crew.
"They note the pack of reporters at his locker each day, or the interviewer waiting at the hotel when the team bus arrives. They hear him repeatedly quizzed about security concerns in Sochi, as if he receives daily intelligence briefings from President Vladimir Putin.
"The closer it gets to Feb. 12, the opening of the Olympic men's hockey tournament, the more the perception grows that Ovechkin serves one master in the daytime, and another at 7 p.m., when the puck drops."
In spite of Ovechkin's desire to win a gold medal in Sochi, his Capitals teammate, Troy Brouwer, hopes he can also regain his focus on Washington.
"I hope his mind is still with us here, with the Capitals. It's a big honor to play in the Olympics when it's in your home country, and I know there is probably a lot of pressure on the whole Russian team to do well...(But) he's employed by the Washington Capitals and his focus needs to be here.
"He's been here, he's been a good teammate, he's been working hard, and that's what's expected of him."
Sheinin notes the Olympics runs in Ovechkin's family. His mother, Tatiana, played point guard for Russia's gold-winning women's basketball teams in Montreal in 1976 and in Moscow in 1980. Meanwhile, his fiancee, Maria Kirilenko, won a bronze medal in tennis in the 2012 games in London.
With these, Ovechkin says his family should understand if he's besieged with too many media obligations in Sochi.
"My fiancee, my mother -- they are athletes. They understand. And my friends, they know why I'm there. I'm pretty sure it's not going to be like regular tournament, where you can meet up with them anytime, like at restaurant, chill out little bit.
"It's going to be Olympics. You have to deal more with media. You have to deal with Russian government, stuff they ask you to do. Of course, it's going to be hard, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a schedule. You have to say yes or no."
According to The Associated Press, Russia (then known as the Soviet Union), won an unprecedented seven of the nine gold medals between 1956 and 1988. However, since the Winter Olympics in Albertville in 1992, it has won just one silver and one bronze medal.
Ovechkin, who will be seeing action in his 18th international tournament for his country, will be teaming up with other stars such as Sergei Bobrovsky, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Radulov and Semyon Varlamov in Russia's quest for Olympic gold.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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