“He’s Like Muhammad Ali, He’s Like Tom Brady, He’s Like Babe Ruth”: Former Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette Talks Alex Ovechkin’s Place in NHL History
Joe Noyes/NoVa Caps
While the Washington Capitals’ 2022-23 season ended without an appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the mutual separation of the team and a majority of its coaching staff (including Head Coach Peter Laviolette) the historic climb of captain Alex Ovechkin up the NHL record books provided a positive anecdote on an otherwise underachieving campaign.
On a recent appearance on the “Cam and Strick Podcast” with former NHL player Cam Janssen and NHL insider Andy Strickland, Laviolette had nothing but praise for his former captain.
“In three years, never once was it about Ovi scoring goals”, Laviolette said, refuting a question regarding Ovechkin’s chasing Wayne Gretzky’s all-time Goals record, “…He’s not like that.”
“Does he want to score goals? He does and I’m glad he does…but it was never like that.”
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Laviolette, who compiled a 115-78-27 regular season record, and a postseason mark of 3-8, says working with Ovechkin will be a highlight of his coaching career.
“This was my first time getting a chance to know Ovi, I knew him before, but I think when you work with somebody you really get to know them. I have so much respect for him as a person, as a player, for the way he plays the game.”
“If you think about what he’s going to do in his career; there’s a chance he’s going to be number one in goals. And I don’t know how far he’ll push up this list, but he’s probably going to be Top 3 in hits; and when he hits I mean he hits. He is a physical, physical presence on the ice.”
“To be able to do that over the longevity of his career, he’s a good person, I loved working with him. I had lots of great times with him, I was able to coach him. He’s just a really good person”, Laviolette continued.
“I enjoyed every single minute. I’ll look back at my career, and there’ll be things I’m going to say ‘I was happy to do this, I was really happy I was able to do that’, I was really happy to be able to work with him for three years, and that’s the truth.”
Laviolette also took a moment to recognize the significance of the one-of-a-kind talent that the 2004 first overall pick and Capitals great continues to be 18 seasons after making his NHL debut.
“He’s like Muhammad Ali, he’s like Tom Brady, he’s like Babe Ruth. When he’s done, he’s gonna, I think he will if he stays healthy, is going to break a record nobody thought could would be broken, or would be broken, and you wouldn’t know it if you talked to him.”
While Ovechkin missed time during the 2022-23 season, Laviolette described his health as “good”, and heaped praise on the 37-year old’s work ethic to stay in the lineup.
“Because of the way he plays the game…the way he skates, the way he hits. It takes a toll on your body. He does everything he can to possibly be in the lineup every night. He practices, on a percentage, he practices 90 percent of the time, 95 percent of the time.”
“There’s a day when he’s played three games in four nights, he was physical, he says ‘I need a minute for this to let up…’, but it’s not, he goes out and works hard in practice. He was awesome.”
To hear Laviolette’s full comments, click HERE to listen to the entire podcast.
By Michael Fleetwood