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Author: Evgeny Belashchenko (RP Exclusive)Date: 06/27/2004
McPhee doesn't disappoint, Capitals draft Ovechkin 1st overall

Despite the attempts to make the #1 overall pick a two horse race between Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin, the latter remained the favorite throughout and there was little doubt that he would be the top pick in the draft. The more heated speculations revolved around whether the Washington Capitals were going to retain the first overall pick they won in the draft lottery, or trade it away to a team that can provide them with a package of players who would make the Caps playoff bound within a season. Washington GM George McPhee maintained throughout the weeks leading up to the draft that he was listening to some offers, but made it clear that he would most likely keep the pick. McPhee did not disappoint the hundreds of Washington fans who drove down to Raleigh and drafted the talented Alexander Ovechkin with the top pick. The dynamic winger will likely be a key building block in the Washington franchise’s return to respectibility after a tumulus 2003-04 season. RussianProspects correspondent Evgeny Belashchenko was able to catch up with Ovechkin after the young man went first overall in the draft. Impressively, the young man conducted the interview in English without the help of a interpreted.

RP: How does it feel to be finally in the NHL?
A. Ovechkin: I waited for this day for maybe two years. Sometimes I dream that a team says my name first at the draft and I am very happy.

RP: When did you find out you were #1 pick. Was it just now, or did you have contact with the Caps before hand?
AO:
No, we did not speak to the Capitals [about being picked #1]. But, I am very happy.

RP: What do you know about the caps?
AO:
I know one guy who is on the Capitals, it’s Alexander Semin. We spoke together at the World Championships in Finland. He said that it is a nice team, with great guys.

RP: Alex, how nervous were you this morning?
AO:
Nervous? A little bit.

R.P.:Alex, how did your interview go with the capitals. Did you feel good after the interview? Did you feel they were going to select you?
AO:
I don’t know, maybe. But, they have a choice and they made their choice,. They picked me and I am very glad.

RP: Alex, what did you say to your parents when they made the anouncement?
AO:
I love you (laughing).

R.P.: It was very important for you to go #1. Why is that?
AO:
Yeah, because, you know, if you are second, you are second. If you are first, you are first. Beacuse I always want to be first. My parents always said that if you play hockey or football [soccer] try to be first. I want to be first all the time.

R.P.: Who do you like in the NHL? Who are your favorite players?
AO:
Mario Lemiux, Jarome Iginla and Owen Nolan.

RP: Why do you like them?
AO:
Because they play strong hockey, and can beat somebody. Jarome Iginla can score goal and he is a leader, main player. Mario Lemiux is a super star and everyone likes his game.

RP: Some experts say that you might be the best Russian hockey player ever as you get older. How do you feel about that? Do you think you will be the best ever?
AO:
I will try!

RP: What will you do next season. Where will you play? What are your plans for the future?
AO:
I don’t know. If there won’t be a lockout, I will play in the NHL. If there will be a lockout, I will play with Dynamo.

RP: What is the first thing you are going to buy?
AO:
First of all, I am going to sign a contract. First of all, I am keeping my money in the bank. And then, I will ask my parents what they want and will by them something.

RP: What would you want to say to your countrymen in Russia?
A.O.:
Rossiya vpered, myi luchshiye!!! [Russia ahead, we are the best!!!]

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