Behind the bench again in D.C. for the first time since 2019, former Washington Capitals bench boss Bruce Boudreau, who recently took over as head coach for the Vancouver Canucks, took the time to discuss Alex Ovechkin and his historic career — and he had plenty to say.
Boudreau was asked about the Capitals captain, who he coached back from 2007 to 2012 as Ovechkin took the league and D.C. area by storm while joining the NHL’s elite back in his 20s.
And, when it comes to whether or not he can catch Wayne Gretzky and break the NHL’s all-time goals record of 894, Boudreau gave a matter-of-fact response.
“He’s going to play until he does break it, I’ll tell you that much,” Boudreau told reporters on Saturday. “So the answer would be yes.”
Ovechkin currently sits at 755 career goals, just 12 shy of passing Jaromir Jagr for third and 139 red lights away from catching Gretzky. He has 25 goals this season and needs to average 33 goals over the next five seasons to break No. 99’s record within the five-year deal he signed over the offseason.
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“Gabby” also explained what sets Ovechkin apart as he continues to make history and break multiple milestones at the age of 36.
“What puts him in a different category or in a category with the Orrs and the Howes and the Gretzkys and the greatest of the game is his will to want to do it,” Boudreau added.
Boudreau also pointed out that it is difficult to stop the No. 8, and joked that a good start would be to “ask him not to come on the ice.” But in all seriousness, trying to shut him down is hard considering how he can adapt to situations and the ever-changing game as a whole.
“The more you hit him, he’s like the Hulk,” Boudreau said of the Russian. “He gets stronger the angrier he gets. You sort of want to let him sleep.”
Ovechkin gave Boudreau a warm welcome back to Capital One Arena, scoring a power-play goal to give Washington a 1-0 lead. That goal ties him with Leon Draisaitl for the most goals (26) and points (54) this season, and also marked his 276th career PPG. He broke Dave Andreychuk’s all-time record on Dec. 31 in Detroit.