Ovechkin could be the brightest veteran in NHL history. He is only surpassed by Lemieux


Ovechkin could be the brightest veteran in NHL history. He is only surpassed by Lemieux

It’s no secret that with age, a person’s physical capabilities become less and less. Even professional athletes are not immune from this. Only the most trained of them are able to maintain the highest level for up to 35 years or more. For most players, by these years, form is declining in one way or another, but, as elsewhere, there are exceptions – for example, tennis player Roger Federer, who only at the turn of his 40th birthday began to suffer from injuries, but, despite this, still delights the audience during rare appearances on the court; footballer Joaquin, in his 40s giving odds to many young players of Betis Seville and the entire Spanish championship; and the legendary fighter of mixed martial arts Fedor Emelianenko, even at 45 years old, capable of knocking out a younger opponent with one blow.

In hockey, there are also such “ageless” persons. What is only Jaromir Jagr – the great Czech is about to hit 50, but he still goes on the ice as part of his native club “Kladno”. This season, with 13 points in 19 matches, he is the third scorer of the Knights!

Many veterans continue to play in the NHL, including 36-year-old Ryan Getzlaf, who recently became the highest scoring player in Anaheim history, 42-year-old Joe Thornton, who did not abandon his attempts to win the Stanley Cup, and 44-year-old Zdeno Haru, who in the end (or not yet?) returned to the Islanders, where his journey to North America began.

If we talk about Russians, then the examples of Vyacheslav Fetisov, Igor Larionov and Sergey Fedorov are the first to come to mind. The legendary defender finished his performances at his peak, at the age of 40 he won the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive year with Detroit, the Professor at the age of 41 became the author of the most important, in his words, washers in his career, and the current head coach of CSKA, at the end of the period in the NHL, went to the aid of Alexander Ovechkin in Washington, at the age of 38 he scored a goal that allowed the Capitals to reach the playoffs for the first time in four seasons, and a year later became the author of the decisive puck in the confrontation with the Rangers, which gave the capital the first since 1998 ticket to the second round of the Stanley Cup.

12 years after those events, Ovechkin – not so young for a long time and just starting his ascent to the status of a world hockey legend – at 36 is the most stellar veteran of the NHL. During this time, Alexander removed all questions about his greatness – hundreds of thousands, or millions of hockey fans, do not have time to savor one of his achievements, just a couple of days later he establishes a new one and again makes the public speak of himself in enthusiastic tones. Although, it would seem, now the Great Eight pursues only one goal – to break Wayne Gretzky’s sniper record.

However, in recent matches, Ovechkin, in addition to repeating the result of Brett Hull on goals in the NHL, reached several more marks. In particular, in the game with Florida, he entered the top 30 scorers in the history of the league, and in the meeting with Buffalo, he took the sole 29th place, breaking away from Denis Savar and Dave Andreychuk.

Alexander also gave his 600th career assist, becoming only the second player in Washington history to achieve a similar result, and the fifth Russian. He also has the opportunity to be in the top two among his compatriots.

Already, Ovechkin is one of the brightest veterans not only of the current generation, but also in the entire history of the NHL. We can speak about this with complete confidence, because he started this season with such inspiration as he never did, it seems. 21 points in 12 games – the Washington captain outdid himself. It’s hard to say what else, in addition to excellent physical fitness, contributed to such an incendiary start – the pursuit of Gretzky’s record, the full return of the fans to the stands, or all at once – but Alexander tears and rushes almost at every corner of the site. Even on the defensive.

The only player aged 36 and over to get at least 20 points faster than Ovechkin is Mario Lemieux. In the 2002/2003 season, the then 37-year-old Pittsburgh striker managed to do it in nine matches, and after 10 he had 23 effective actions. Lemieux finished that championship with 91 points, which he scored in just 67 matches! In such a respectable age for sports, even Wayne Gretzky himself could not do this. Imagine what SuperMario’s result would be if he played all the matches!

Unfortunately, health did not allow the Pittsburgh legend to show everything that he was still capable of in those years. Let’s hope that Ovechkin will manage to avoid this fate and we will regularly see him on the site at least until the end of the 2025/2026 season – that’s when Alexander’s current contract with Washington will end. Judging by its current form, there is every reason to believe that it will not slow down soon. In this case, Ovechkin will have more than one chance to surpass Lemieux’s achievement and become the brightest veteran in NHL history.


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