This article caught me off guard. I hadn’t heard this before today, and Todd makes some good points. Ovechkin is also best friends with the Habs’ rearguard Andrei Markov. I can’t imagine what this would do for the team, both on and off the ice. If the team can’t land a French Canadian superstar like Vincent Lecavalier, then Ovechkin would be the next best thing. Talk about fire-wagon hockey. Here’s Jack Todd’s article, dated Dec. 21, 2007.
JACK TODD, The Gazette
Published: 13 hours ago
If you were watching the Canadiens’ 5-2 win over Washington last night, chances are your attention was about evenly divided between the Habs and the kid wearing No. 8 for the Capitals: the incomparable Alexander Ovechkin.
And chances are, more than a few of you closed your eyes and dreamed the dream:
Ovechkin wearing the CH.
True, Ovechkin showed only flashes of the form that makes him the most exciting player in the game – but there are dreams and there are dreams. All over the hockey world, there’s a rumour a minute and most of them last about that long. This is one dream that might have legs.
First of all, you can stop drooling over Vincent Lecavalier. It isn’t going to happen. Lecavalier does not want to play here, period. Has he said so? Not in so many words. Instead, he quietly re-upped in Tampa Bay, signing a long-term contract at a time when he could have opted for a one-year deal, free agency and a glorious return to Montreal.
Why? Lecavalier plays within 20 minutes of a beach. In the sunshine. Low taxes, few potholes, no need to deal with three dozen reporters at every morning skate wanting to know if it’s true that he’s dating Mitsou.
So if you’re going to dream in Technicolor, settle on a player who at least wants to play in this city. Better still, there’s a plausible scenario that could bring him to Montreal.
Ovechkin will be a restricted free agent after this season. This year, he’s earning a mere $1.3 million and the Capitals thought they could sign him for something similar to Sidney Crosby’s contract, which works out to $8.7 million a year for five years. But Ovechkin fired Don Meehan and turned his affairs over to a lawyer, with everything guided by his mother, Tatiana. Tatiana is apparently thinking something more in the $9-million to $10-million range.
Ovechkin and Russian teammate Alexander Semin will be restricted free agents and Washington will be hard put to satisfy both, and for the NHL to have a player like Ovechkin in a market like Washington is a crime. Night after night, Ovechkin plays to thousands of empty seats and in D.C., he always will. In Montreal, a so-so team without a marquee star in Ovechkin’s league can draw 21,273 for exhibitions.
Does Ovechkin like Montreal? Very much. He has never hesitated to say so. His best hockey buddy is Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov; last time the Habs were in Washington, reporters wanting to talk with Ovechkin had to wait half an hour while Ovechkin and Markov chatted on the ice.
But chitchat and sellouts are not going to bring Ovechkin to Montreal. A contract will – a big contract. If the Islanders can throw 15 years at Rick DiPietro and the Flyers are willing to give Mike Richards a dozen, why not a 15-year deal for Ovechkin? Is there a player in the league, apart from Crosby, as likely to make such a deal pay?
The Canadiens already know they may have to commit for at least a decade to keep Carey Price in the fold because Gary Bettman failed to foresee the potential impact of the decision to 1) offer restricted free agency early in a player’s career and 2) to sign a basic agreement without a cap on the length of contract.