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Ovechkin Recalls Meeting Howe, Holds Mr. Hockey’s Autograph Close

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin reflects on meeting reflected on what “Mr. Hockey” means to him.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — As he eyes goals No. 801 and No. 802 to catch and pass Gordie Howe on the NHL's all-time goals list, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin holds his memories of "Mr. Hockey" close to his heart.

The 37-year-old met Howe at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. It was their first and only meeting before Howe died on June 10, 2016 at the age of 88. Still, Ovechkin felt a connection to the legend he looked up to as a kid and recalls having a good conversation with him.

"Probably we were talking about the sticks, how different sticks are," Ovechkin remembered.

Ovechkin has an ever-growing stick collection, which includes Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux's sticks from back in the day. He also has a number of souvenirs from sports stars, including Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. However, he says the one thing he got from Howe during their meeting stands out the most: a photo of them together that Howe signed.

"It's probably the top thing in my collection," Ovechkin said.

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The Capitals face the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and Howe's sons, Mark and Marty, will be in attendance to see Ovechkin as he closes in on their father's record. Mark met Ovechkin back on Nov. 3, when Washington played Detroit at Little Caesar's Arena. There, Ovechkin tied Howe for the most goals with one franchise in NHL history (786). Since then, the Russian has hit the 800-goal mark. 

"When we met last time, he said, when you're going to be close, if I have a chance, they'll come and watch the game," Ovechkin said of Mark. "I hope this happens."

Playing the Red Wings holds a lot of significance for Ovechkin. Not just because he's hit many milestones against the club (he also broke the all-time power-play goals record on New Year's Eve vs. Detroit last season), but it's Howe's former club. So for No. 8, it'd be special to hit 801 — and even 802 — on Monday.

"It would be nice, obviously," he smiled, but then remained cautious. "But you never know what's going to happen."