Capitals

Wayne Gretzky praises Alex Ovechkin for elevating the game of hockey

Alex Ovechkin has not always been the most popular of players within the hockey community. The pure jubilation he shows whenever he or a teammate scores flies in the face of the more traditional hockey fan who turns their nose up when players ever dare to show (gasp) emotion on the ice.

Ovechkin took his exuberance to the next level on the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run which ended with Washington hoisting the Cup in June. But if there was still any question over whether the Great 8’s style of play or personality on the ice was good or bad for the game, the Great One himself has settled that debate.

Wayne Gretzky appeared Friday on “Maria Bartiromo’s Wall Street” on the Fox Business Network to talk about promoting the game in China and some of his recent business investments. The interview started with a discussion on the state of the game and Gretzky cited Ovechkin specifically for his contribution to growing the sport.

“You look at guys like Sidney Crosby and you look at Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews in Toronto and, of course, what Alex Ovechkin did last year,” Gretzky said. “I think that he really elevated our sport to another level because, not only how good he played and what he did for the city of Washington, but how emotional he was and how he wore his emotions on his sleeve and how people rallied around that.”

So it’s actually a good thing for athletes to show emotion while they’re playing and celebrate their accomplishments? What a novel concept.

Hopefully this slams the door shut on those who may feel like the Caps captain should “act like he’s been there.”

It is fun to see one of the best players in history actually enjoy playing the game. It also made winning the Stanley Cup that much more incredible because the team really took on his personality in the endless celebration that followed.

The Capitals and the sport of hockey is better for having a personality like Ovechkin’s.

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