LAS VEGAS, NV – Before the Washington Capitals took the ice for Game 7 in Tampa Bay last week, they turned to their captain, Alexander Ovechkin, for some words of encouragement. He stood in the center of the visitors locker room and explained he was so confident in his teammates, and so motivated to win this game, that he could walk across the country for Game 1 in Las Vegas. Of course, this was simply a motivating a tactic. Just using hyperbole to get a point across, and it worked. The Capitals went on to win the game 4-0, solidifying their spot as the Eastern Conference Representative in the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, this theme of exaggeration didn’t land correctly with the Team Operations Intern as he failed to book a plane ticket to Las Vegas for Ovechkin leaving him to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.
A consumate teammate, Ovechkin joined the team to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and that’s where his journey began. As the team took flight, Ovi headed towards I-70W. Even the longest journey starts with one small step after all. Two hours into his pilgrimage, One of Ovechkin’s shoelaces snapped. His only backup pair of shoes were a set of lime green Crocs, they would have to do. As Ovechkin listened to his favorite podcast, “This American Life,” by NPR, reality began to set in that he was largely unprepared for what was ahead of him. Knowing he couldn’t hail an Uber, as it would destroy his monthly data plan, Ovechkin had to think of a way to pick up the pace. He knew he had to hitchhike.
Ovechkin, a Russian, is not in tune with positivity of optimism, so using a thumbs up to hail down a potential ride never occurred to him. In his experience, practicing such a gesture would result in a lost thumb back home. In time, he eventually brought a vehicle to a stop. Well, kind of. a truck making a mass delivery for Nestle popped a tire when it ran over a rogue hockey skate. Police reports from the incident have not been able to identify the source at this time. Ovechkin befriended the driver, who insisted on being called Hot Wheels, and agreed to take a detour to Las Vegas to help his new friend. Ovechkin arrived 16 minutes before puck drop, ran to the locker room, and realized he had lost all feelings in his legs. “Not to worry, just gotta dig deep and be hockey tough. If I put my heart into it, we’ll get the W.” Ovi said to himself. The Capitals went on to lose 6-4 and Ovechkin was immediately transported to the ICU for dehydration and blisters. More on this story as it develops.