It's safe to guess the NHL was hoping for a more uplifting start to the new league-produced DVD "Alex Ovechkin: The Gr8" about the Washington Capitals superstar.
The DVD begins with the Capitals losing to the eighth-ranked Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, a stunning first-round defeat after the Caps had won the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the 2009-10 regular season. When plans were made to document his offseason, producers and the league must have dreamed about a Stanley Cup celebration nearly as much as Ovechkin himself.
But Ovechkin, who is one of the league's marquee players along with Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, was a good sport and let the cameras follow him around during his offseason in Russia, Las Vegas, Miami and Washington.
"It was pretty fun to spend time with my family and my friends," Ovechkin said in a phone interview last month when "Alex Ovechkin: The Gr8" was released.
Spending time with his friends and family helped ease the sting and disappointment of Washington's playoff failure, and the DVD gives fans a good look at his tight-knit family. He gets his athleticism from his father, Mikhail, who played soccer for Dynamo Moscow and his mother, Tatyana, who won Olympic gold medals in basketball for the Soviet Union in 1976 and 1980.
Fortunately for Ovechkin's historically inspired nickname and his CCM product line, Tatyana wore the No. 8 in basketball and he continued the family tradition on Russian national teams and into the NHL.
"All growing up, I played No. 8. But when I played on Dynamo, I was [No. 32] …," Ovechkin said. "When I come here, I said I'm gonna play No. 8."
He's been starring as the "Great 8" since his rookie season of 2005-06, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year and Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP in 2008 and 2009.
Besides the disc, hockey fans can get more behind-the-scenes footage of Ovechkin on HBO's "24/7: Penguins-Capitals: The Road to the Winter Classic" in advance of Ovechkin and Crosby being front and center in the NHL's annual outdoor game Jan. 1 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
The Life spoke with Ovechkin about his rivalry with Crosby, his DVD, cars, music and the Russian word we learned in a recent GQ article about him.
The Life: It wasn't the ideal circumstances for you after losing in the first round. How difficult was it to go through with the filming after that defeat?
Ovechkin: Yeah, it was pretty hard feeling when you lose in the playoffs, but you know it's life and sometimes you take bad experience … and keep going forward.
The Life: Comparing the DVD and the recent GQ article that gave glimpses into your personal life, the only thing missing on the DVD was the telochki -- am I saying it right? [According to GQ, telochki literally means calves but semantically is between "chicks" and "b----es."]
Ovechkin: Ha, telochki, yeah.
The Life: Maybe if they had some telochki, it could help boost sales.
Ovechkin: Actually, you're gonna see some night club life over there, so if you want to see some telochki.
The Life: There were scenes at clubs in Las Vegas but not in Russia.
Ovechkin: No, they didn't want to go with me in the nightclubs over there. They [were] too afraid.
The Life: I like when you dropped in on the McDonald's. What's better, Russian McDonald's or North American McDonald's?
Ovechkin: Well, it's different [items] but pretty much the same. Very good taste.
The Life: For many hockey fans, there's a split between Ovechkin fans and Crosby fans. But you're friendly with Sid in the film; do you think some of your die-hard fans might be a little surprised at that?
Ovechkin: No, we can talk when we don't play against each other. He's a nice guy and it's nice to have little talks with him. You know, it's life. We respect each other on the ice and off the ice, too.
The Life: You've got the Winter Classic coming up, with more behind the scenes for HBO's "24/7: Penguins-Capitals: The Road to the Winter Classic." Are they shooting footage for that already?
Ovechkin: They already are here, so they started right now.
The Life: It looks like you're a car buff. How many cars do you have?
The Life: Just two; I thought there were more in the DVD.
Ovechkin: No, no, in Russia I have four.
The Life: Oh, so four in Russia and two here.
The Life: So what's your favorite?
Ovechkin: Mercedes SL 65. Here it's Mercedes. In Russia, BMW M6.
The Life: Where can you really let it go and test their speed?
Ovechkin: In Russia.
The Life: Who are worse drivers, in Washington or Moscow?
Ovechkin: Ummm, probably Washington (laughs).
The Life: In the extras, we heard your singing ability. What are some of your favorite musicians?
Ovechkin: I like dance and hip-hop.
The Life: Just name a few.
Ovechkin: Some people like Eminem, Lil Wayne.
The Life: What are you listening to now in your car or on your iPod?
Ovechkin: I have dance music in my car right now.
The Life: Any particular artists?
Ovechkin: No, just a DJ mix.
The Life: You've been the "NHL 2K" coverboy. Do you play any other video games when you're home relaxing?
Ovechkin: Yeah, soccer, "Call Of Duty," something like that … "Counter-Strike."
The Life: How about movies; do you get a chance to see many movies when you're on the road?
Ovechkin: Yeah, we watched, the last movie was "Saw 7 3D." … That was good.
The Life: I like that NHL Network commercial of you in the middle of an intense workout thumping ropes on the floor. Is that a favorite routine?
Ovechkin: That's one of them.
The Life: I imagine that's good for your forearms and working on your shot.
The Life: How many intervals would you do that for?
Ovechkin: About 30 seconds.
The Life: How many reps?
Ovechkin: Like five.
The Life: So you get a good burn.
The Life: What are some other drills you like to do to help your shot off the ice?
Ovechkin: I don't like to do many weights on my arms. Like I just run a lot.
Jim Wilkie is the editor of The Life and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.