Capitals

Laviolette: There’s a ‘chance’ Ovechkin plays into his 40s

Capitals
Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin is no spry youngster, but the 36-year-old is playing some of the best hockey of his life through the Capitals’ first 23 games this season. Ovechkin enters play Wednesday second in the NHL in both goals (19) and points (37) as he embarks on the first season of a five-year extension he signed last offseason.

Though Ovechkin will be 40 years old when his contract expires, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette told 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday that he won’t rule out him playing beyond the 2025-26 campaign.

“I think that there’s a chance,” Laviolette said of Ovechkin playing into his early 40s. “Listen, he loves the game, he loves the team. A lot of it has to do with health, I think, as you get older but right now he’s still strong. I could see that happening.”

Ovechkin has appeared in 1,220 games to date, which ranks fourth among active players. The current active leader is Florida Panthers center Joe Thornton, who faced the Capitals on Tuesday in his 1,692nd career game. Thornton, 42, is chasing his former teammate Patrick Marleau (1,779) for the all-time record.

In order to catch Marleau, Ovechkin would have to play at least another seven seasons after the 2021-22 campaign, meaning he would be still on the ice at 43 years old. That’s a long ways away, but Laviolette isn’t betting against Ovechkin by any means.