Scoring impressive goals may be his day job, but helping kids achieve their hockey dreams is just as important for Alexander Ovechkin.
The big-hearted star of the Washington Capitals is not afraid to put his money — and his time — where his mouth is when it comes to giving kids a hockey boost.
Ovechkin was at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto recently to promote a contest that will see him travel to a winning Canadian hockey town to run a practice session for a local kids’ hockey team and present a donation of $8,000 from Energizer to pay for the team’s expenses like equipment, ice time and jerseys.
Ovechkin also runs his own charity called Alex Ovechkin’s Crazy 8s which buys tickets to every Capitals home game for deserving kids and also invests his time regularly to run skills clinics for budding hockey players.
For Ovechkin it’s all about putting kids on the ice regardless of their circumstances and he says anything he can do right now is just the tip of the iceberg.
“I just want to help kids to live their dream — this is just the beginning of my charity work,” Ovechkin said.
His parents supported his love of athletics when he was young, taking him to soccer fields, basketball courts and eventually to hockey rinks. He says the best part of his success now is seeing his parents enjoy it.
“My family (motivated me). My parents gave me everything. I see how happy they are for me and it feels great,” Ovechkin said.
On the flip side, Ovechkin suggests kids themselves should be the ultimate arbiter of just how much hockey becomes a part of their young lives. The last thing he wants to see is overbearing parents pushing their youngsters through the sport to fulfill their own long-lost hockey aspirations.
“The most important thing for kids and hockey is that it’s all about them ... kids have to want it,” he said.
Ovechkin feels compelled to use his good fortune to make a difference in other people’s lives.
“I just like to help people. I think I’m a lucky guy and that way I feel have to help people. If you have a chance to do something, you have to,” he said.
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