When it comes to his sons hockey career, Mikhail Ovechkin doesnt miss much.
On a practice day, hes often seated in the same familiar spot at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, watching his son and the rest of the Capitals go through their paces.
He attends nearly every Capitals home game and its not uncommon to see him wandering around rinks on the road.
This weekend, the elder Ovechkin will join the rest of the Capitals fathers to Manhattan for the teams annual Dads trip. Many of the players dads joined them in Alexandria for Fridays Casino Night fundraiser and will join them on the Saturday afternoon train ride to New York, where theyll enjoy a team dinner and a hotel stay before taking in Sunday afternoons nationally televised game (12:30 p.m., NBC) at Madison Square Garden.
I think its more for the dads, Alex Ovechkin told CSNwashington.com. For us its the regular stuff. For the dads they get to see how we travel and see New York. Its for them. I dont think lots of (fathers) have met each other.
Despite living with his son for months at a time, Mikhail Ovechkin speaks little English. Alex jokes that the two phrases his father knows best are How much? and Discount?
He cant speak English, I dont know what hes going to do (in New York), Alex said. It will be interesting for him and it will be lots of fun. Hes probably going to enjoy this trip. Our dads are our biggest fans, no matter what. For us its a huge opportunity to be with our dads on the road.
Mikhail Ovechkin played professional soccer in Russia and from a young age was a major influence in his sons hockey career.
He was with me since I was 14 or 15 every practice, every game, Alex said. I appreciate him for who he is. He would wake me up and go to my skates and watch my practices. He talked to coaches about what I have to do be better. Its something Ill never forget what he did for me.
Ovechkins mother, Tatiana, a two-time Russian Olympian (1976 and 1980) in womens basketball, also lives with him during the hockey season, cooking his Russian favorites -- meat dumplings and stuffed cabbage -- and doing his laundry. In 2008 both parents played key roles in the negotiation of Ovechkins 13-year, 124 million contract with the Capitals.
Ovechkin, 26, says he appreciates his parents for instilling in him a love of hockey.
All my family has pushed me to be better, he said. They know I love hockey. They know hockeys my life And they tell me, OK, if you like it, you have to push it and be the best. Its still the same now. They support me, they give me everything I need. I dont have to think about anything but hockey.