Hockey is a sport built on tradition and superstition, if you believe in that kind of thing. The Washington Capitals have a great captain on their team in Alexander Ovechkin. This could be a curse or a blessing for them. Hockey is a very superstitious sport. No Russian born captain has hoisted a Stanley Cup since 1938 and even then some hockey fans will tell you, he wasn’t really Russian.
The last Russian born captain to hoist a Stanley Cup was Johnny Gottselig from the Chicago Blackhawks. This happened in 1938. Most hockey historians will not acknowledge the fact that he was born in Russian. They consider him to be Canadian as he lived in Canada from an early age.
For those who don’t know of him he played left wing for the Blackhawks for 17-years. He was only the second player born in Russia to play in the NHL as well as the first European-born head coach in league history. He has two Stanley Cups in his playing career, the last being in 1938.
1938 was the last year that a Russian born captain won a Stanley Cup. Matter of fact, there have only been three non-Canadian Stanley Cup captains. Those are Chilie Gardiner, born in Scotland, won with the Blackhawks in 1933 and 1934. John Gottselig born in Russian won with the Blackhawks in 1937-38 and Derian Hatcher born in Michigan and won with the Dallas Stars in 1998-99.
These stats coupled in with the superstitions that surround the sport, does not bode well for the Capitals to end their 41 season drought for their Stanely Cup.
Last season, the Capitals came off on a very fast start and progressed to be the point’s leader in the league. They did well against the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs and then lost in six games to the Stanley Cup Champion Penguins.
While any hockey fan you talk too knows that the Presidents Trophy (the award for having the most points in the NHL) is a curse. Only 8 out of 27 teams have ever won both the Stanley Cup and the President Cup.
Now back to Ovi, when he wasn’t captain, the Capitals were still not having any luck getting a team to the playoffs and having luck in those same playoffs. So it isn’t really his fault, but maybe it’s simply because he isn’t from Canada.
When Alex wasn’t the captain the Caps did not have very much success either. The biggest problem isn’t with the Captain in the regular season, but in the playoffs it’s almost like the pressure gets to Ovi more and when his team falters, he feels like he has to be the one to put the team on his shoulder to succeed. It doesn’t help either that he is a one-way player. He can play offense but struggles on defense which he plays in the playoffs.
It’ll be interesting this NHL season to see if the Caps can bounce past the second round or if they are going to be stuck being bounced out of the playoffs by teams who have gotten hot at the right time.
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