- The Washington Times - Friday, December 23, 2005

The whole world will get a chance to see Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals’ wunderkind, during the Winter Olympics in February in Turin, Italy.

The 20-year-old left wing was named to Team Russia yesterday, although he was informed of his selection last week. In keeping with Russian tradition, the list of names was released a day late even though it was submitted to the International Ice Hockey Federation on time.

“I am happy, happy,” Ovechkin said before last night’s game, his normal ear-to-ear grin growing even wider. “The Olympics is the Olympics and I am happy to represent my country.”

That always has been his goal. Even before he came to the United States to sign a contract, he made it clear he would report to Team Russia if he got the call.

“I am a Russian guy,” he said. “I remember watching the Olympic Games [when they were] in Nagano and Salt Lake City and I liked watching the Russian players. When I am in the Olympics, I will give 100 percent because I am Russian and like all the other guys from Sweden and Canada and the United States, I want to play well for my country.”

If Ovechkin wins Olympic gold he won’t be the first in his family to do so. His mother, Tatiana, won two gold medals as a member of the Russian Olympic basketball team in 1976 and 1980. Her son has vowed to win three.

Ovechkin is the third Capitals player to be named to an Olympic team. Goalie Olie Kolzig will play for Germany and defenseman Ivan Majesky will suit up for Slovakia.

In addition, nine former Caps were named to various team: Robert Muller, Stefan Ustorf and Jan Benda of Germany; Peter Bondra and Richard Zednik of Slovakia; Jan Bulis, Jaromir Jagr and Robert Lang of the Czech Republic; and Sergei Gonchar of Russia.

The Caps never have had an active player participate for the United States or Canada since NHL players were allowed to compete in 1998. But two players who would later be Caps won gold for the U.S. — the late Tommy Williams in 1960 and Dave Christian in 1980. Both were Minnesota natives.

Caps center and captain Jeff Halpern still has a chance to be a member of the U.S. team. Countries this year are allowed to name a three-player “taxi squad” of players ready to step in should there be an injury. The U.S. has yet to name that squad.

Caps help out

Three Caps — Mathieu Biron, Matt Pettinger and Brian Willsie — and their families will spend Christmas with 400 underprivileged children and their families at the District ChopHouse & Brewery. It is the third annual Miracle on Seventh Street event.

Volunteers will serve dinners throughout the day with each family receiving gifts, including clothing, groceries and other essential items.

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