WASHINGTON — It sure looked like Alex Ovechkin was slowing down, at least by his standards.

This time a year ago, Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals were limping away from another early playoff exit. His 16 even-strength goals in the regular season tied for the lowest of his career. Injuries limited him to five goals in 13 playoff games.

Then a funny thing happened. Coach Barry Trotz took time from visiting his son in Russia to meet with Ovechkin and talk about changing and evolving his game at age 32. Time doesn’t stop, not even for the greatest goal-scorer of his generation. Trotz and General Manager Brian MacLellan wanted more goals, better foot speed and for their cornerstone player to take care of his body to be able to handle more time on the ice.

“That’s just life: You have to change, you have to grow,” Trotz said. “He was motivated to show everybody that he still is a great player in this league.”

Ovechkin led the NHL with 49 goals in the regular season, 15 more in the playoffs as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner and showed in his 13th season he could lead his team to the Stanley Cup. Ordinarily a team would be running out the clock on the final three seasons of a 13-year deal with a player of his age, but now Ovechkin is a Stanley Cup champion and there is no telling how much more the big forward can do.

“Was tough time, but we fight through it and we get result,” Ovechkin said. “It’s just something special. I don’t know. I’m just very excited and I’m very happy right now.”

Next week, Ovechkin will lead a parade in Washington and this summer will take the Cup back home to Moscow.

After that, the next challenge starts. Ovechkin last summer adjusted his training methods in Russia, and he seemed rejuvenated when he came back to the Washington area.

Now he has to do it all over again.

“As you’re getting older, we’re going to have to train a little different so you become the athlete you always have been, because these young kids can absolutely fly,” Trotz said.

Ovechkin looked like he was flying all season, from seven goals in his first two games to one on the power play Thursday night in the Cup clincher against the Vegas Golden Knights.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.