Ovechkin finds love ... will he find the net?

Ovechkin finds love ... will he find the net?
January 8, 2013, 8:00 pm
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Ovie with some "thoughts" on his engagement

Will more love mean more goals for Alex Ovechkin?

Ovechkin confirmed on Tuesday what he announced to the world via Twitter on New Year’s Day – that he and Russian tennis star Maria Kirilenko are engaged to be married.

When I asked Ovi how it feels to be engged, he broke into his trademark gap-toothed smile.

“Uh, pretty normal,” he said. “She’s not with me right now. She’s in Australia. It’s a good feeling. It’s not like you can do whatever you want. You know she has a tennis racquet and she can hit you.”

By the time the laughter died down, Ovechkin said, “It’s a good feeling for me right now.”

Ovechkin, 27, and Kirilenko, 25, have not yet set a date to exchange their vows. In fact, they had just two days to enjoy the thought of being engaged. On Jan 2, Kirilenko caught a flight from Moscow to Melbourne for the Australian Open.

 “I gave her a ring on [Dec.] 31st and on the second she go to Australia,” Ovechkin said. “It’s a tough situation, but it is what it is.”

Ovechkin is hoping his time in the Kontinental Hockey League will give him an advantage when the Capitals’ open their 48-game season. Following what many described as a disappointing season last year, when he recorded 38 goals and a career-low 65 points in 78 games, Ovechkin netted 19 goals and 40 points in 31 games for Dynamo Moscow. He was also a plus-13 with 14 penalty minutes.

“For me personally it was great,” he said. “First of all, I was in my hometown with my family and friends. I didn’t [celebrate] a Happy New Year [with family and friends] for 13 years in a row, so that was a good thing. Playing for my home team in front of my old fans, I think I had a very good experience there.

“I think it’s going to help me and Nicky [Backstrom]. It’s better to play hockey than just stay back here and skate and do nothing.”

Ovechkin said the hockey fans in D.C. and across North America are louder and more rambunctious than the fans who came to see him in Russia.

“Here it’s loud and here it’s sold out every game,” Ovechkin said. “But in Russia it’s a different scenario. I enjoyed playing there but I know exactly what’s going to happen there. They sing songs there. They could make a band called Dynamo.”

Having played two different systems under both Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter last season Ovechkin said he’s anxious to start a season under the direction of Hall of Famer Adam Oates, one of the greatest playmakers in NHL history.

“I’m very excited to play with Adam,” Ovechkin said. “I’m going to do my best for him. I’m in good shape right now. I played 31 games. It’s going to be hard the first couple games because we need to learn the system and the rink is a smaller size, but I think it will be hard for everyone.”

Ovechkin was also asked if he thinks the NHL will participate in the 2014 Winter Olymics in Sochi, Russia.

“I think a deal’s done,” he said. “We’re going.”