Ovechkin isn’t a rah-rah leader — the guy who delivers the fire-and-brimstone speech. What he does is connect people from different backgrounds and different countries.
After every practice, many players participate in a game affectionately dubbed “Juice Boy.” Participants must place a shot in each of the top corners of the net from a predetermined point on the ice.
The game goes on until only one player has not successfully hit both corners. The last man standing is Juice Boy for the day. The punishment: Juice Boy is required to serve sports drinks to each player at his locker.
The contest’s popularity has grown tremendously. The game, once mostly the province of a small collection of guys who played for Boudreau on the Hershey minor league team, now includes most of the roster.
One day last month, the loser was Ovechkin — the man who scored 65 goals last season, the man who can hurl pucks at nearly 100 mph with his stick. There he was in the dressing room, Juice Boy, delivering drinks to his teammates.
“A lot of the Russian guys I’ve played with are very quiet and kind of keep to themselves,” Poti said. “They didn’t interact with our team that much, but our guys are kind of front and center with everything that is going on. I think it is easier for everyone to mesh and kind of get to know everyone when you have Russians who act like our guys typically do. There’s a lot camaraderie and guys are always doing stuff with each other. Nobody is on kind of the outskirts of the team.”