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Ovechkin Never Imagined He’d Be Chasing All-Time Goals Record Or Become NHL Legend

Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin never thought he’d be chasing down Wayne Gretzky. He just hoped he’d be good enough to help his team.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — Standing in front of a logo that reads "Gr8: 802 and Counting" at MedStar Capitals Iceplex while hosting over 800 Arlington Public School kids to celebrate him hitting 800 goals and other historic milestones, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin admits with his classic missing-tooth smile that, as a wide-eyed rookie coming into the league in 2005, he never thought he'd even come close to catching Wayne Gretzky.

The 37-year-old, who fell in love with hockey at the age of two after finding a stick at a toy store and refusing to put it down, is now at 810 career goals and passed Gordie Howe for second on the NHL's all-time goals list back on Dec. 23, 2022. He is now just 85 goals away from breaking Gretzky's all-time goals record.

All of that, even in his 18th season, is still a whirlwind for him.

"No," he laughed when asked if younger "Ovi" thought he'd be a legend and future Hockey Hall of Famer. "I'm always saying, like, when you came to NHL, you try to maybe score one goal, you know, play one good year. But when you reach those milestones, it's kind of crazy things."

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He also called the fact that he passed Howe a "miracle" and said when he was first starting out, he believed that he'd just be a good player and would do his best to make an impact. And now, 810 goals later, he has broken several records, is the NHL's all-time shots leader, all-time road goals leader and all-time power-play goals leader, and, after scoring his 30th goal of the season on Saturday, has the most 30-goal seasons in the history of the Show (tied with Capitals alum Mike Gartner).

The 2018 Stanley Cup champion is even getting his own logo on the ice at select D.C.-area rinks, one with his signature No. 8 that reads "Ovi's Office" and will sit in his signature scoring spot in the left circle. There's also merch — hats, t-shirts, pucks, you name it — surrounding his pursuit of No. 99, which has been dubbed "The Gr8 Chase."

"It's great," he noted. "I'm pretty sure there's gonna be lots of jokes around the locker room, but I'll take it."

After this season, Ovechkin has three season left on the five-year deal he signed back in the 2021 offseason. He'll not only look to keep chasing history but will also continue to work to spread the passion for the game in the community and help the "Ovechkin Effect" — a term describing the D.C. hockey movement following Ovechkin's entry into the league — live on.

“I think organization and all this 800 thing, it’s come out great," Ovechkin said. "The kids, people get involved, they get to start to love more hockey. And you never know, maybe one of the kids is going to be excited to play hockey and we'll see."

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