- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 29, 2021

In the 16 seasons Alex Ovechkin has spent in Washington, he’s accomplished plenty. He can look at the NHL’s top-scoring list and see his name listed sixth, with 730 career tallies. He has a “C” stitched on his jersey and a Stanley Cup championship under his belt.

But there’s still so much more Ovechkin wants to accomplish in D.C.

“Me and my wife go to museum because I don’t think she been one,” Ovechkin said Thursday. “We have lots of time and we figure out what we have to do.”

Ovechkin’s right. He and his wife have plenty of time to visit a museum after the 35-year-old winger signed a new five-year deal with the Capitals, keeping the captain in Washington for what should be the duration of his already distinguished NHL career.

There’s more left than museum visits, of course. Ovechkin envisions more Stanley Cup runs ahead, as well as more goals — 165 more, to be exact. That’s how many goals Ovechkin will need to pass Wayne Gretzky as the all-time leader in NHL scoring, and that pursuit played a role in why he sought a five-year contract to remain with Washington.

“Well, you never know,” Ovechkin said. “I’m gonna try best. That’s why I wanna play five more years. To have a chance to catch the Great One, why not? If I’m gonna be second, pretty good number as well.”

There was little question Ovechkin would be back, even as he entered the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. The Capitals opted against protecting him in last week’s expansion draft, since he wasn’t under contract. If the Kraken had selected Ovechkin, Seattle would’ve had to sign him. And he didn’t see an NHL future with any other team than the only one he’s ever known.

Once his contract expires, Ovechkin will have spent 21 seasons with the Capitals. He’ll be one of three D.C.-based professional athletes to spend at least 20 seasons with their respective teams, along with Washington Football Team cornerback Darrell Green and Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson.

Ovechkin has elevated the franchise since his debut in the 2005-2006 season. The Capitals have the second-most wins (689) and points (1,524) since Ovechkin first hopped on the ice for Washington. He signed the first contract over $100 million in NHL history in 2008 — a $124 million, 13-year extension. But now he’s back for more.

“He’s such a good guy. And there’s not a lot of good guys who are great players,” said Ted Leonsis, CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment. “He’s very authentic and I think the community expected Alex to stay, because they know what a good person that he is. And he’s showing his gratitude back to the community by playing here for five years.”

General manager Brian MacLellan said Ovechkin feels he can play until he’s 40, but there will be challenges as he ages. He’ll need to work hard to maintain his conditioning. And as MacLellan outfits a roster, he wants to ensure Ovechkin has support that can some of the goal-scoring pressure off Ovechkin.

Still, Ovechkin will push for goals and more. He needs to average 33 a season to pass Gretzky, and there’s more team success Ovechkin seeks.

“Focus on winning a Cup and breaking the unbreakable record,” Leonsis said. “What a way that would be to finish a career.”

And visiting a museum with his wife. Add that to the agenda during Ovechkin’s next five years in Washington.

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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