- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin signed with sports agency IMG Global in a move expected to boost the hockey star’s off-ice profile. The Russian left wing will seek to expand his commercial endorsements and marketability by partnering with the same agency as Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Maria Sharapova.

“IMG has a long track record at working with people who are not only good at their sport but have the ability to transcend that sport and translate that to off-ice success for themselves and the businesses they align themselves with,” said David Abrutyn, managing director and senior vice president for IMG Global. “We certainly recognize in Alex that he seems to have all the things to make for a terrific spokesperson and endorser.”

The deal with IMG came after negotiations with Ovechkin’s family; his attorney, Stephen Screnci; and financial adviser George Landa. IMG said its operation of an office in Moscow helped sway Ovechkin, as well as the agency’s track record of keeping clients for many years.

Ovechkin, 24, has won the last two Hart trophies as the NHL’s MVP and signed a 13-year, $124 million contract with the Capitals in January 2008. But his commercial success has been limited to deals with Hair Cuttery, CCM, Energizer and a handful of other companies. Abrutyn, who once worked in the Capitals’ sales and marketing office, will work with other IMG staff and Ovechkin on creating a “brand plan” for the player and pursuing a blend of local, national and international endorsement deals. Abrutyn said he initially would like to partner Ovechkin with a sports drink, energy drink or other beverage, plus a quick-serve restaurant.

IMG also will work with Ovechkin to cash in on his possible appearance at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, to be held in Sochi, Russia.

“Certainly, Alex having an opportunity to get on the global stage and knowing what his popularity is from Russia, certainly from a business standpoint, we’re a global company and understand how to turn those opportunities into successful business opportunities,” Abrutyn said.

• Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com.

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