The Frappe reported on this story last year when Alexander Ovechkin was signed to a 13 year, 124 million dollar contract. While I was more than skeptical about spending so much money on one player when the NHL doesn’t exactly look like it is in the kind of shape to be dishing out such contracts, the Washington Capitals are getting a return on their investment. Last night, Ovechkin scored two goals, bringing his season total to 60. The last season that there was a 60 goal scorer was in 1995-96 when Mario Lemieux (69) and Jaromir Jagr (62) did it as teammates. And in case you think Ovechkin is all about the goal, he also had two assists. Pretty good stat-line.
But as always, we need to ask if this means anything for the NHL. The NHL is still trying to recover a national audience from its extended strike that cancelled the entire 2004-05 season. Despite pulling better attendance figures that before the strike (for the most part), you can still hardly find a hockey game on television these days. And no TV coverage equals no TV money. So I suppose the more up-and-coming players that we see, from Ovechkin to the phenom Sidney Crosby, the better chance we might have of actually seeing a NHL regular season hockey game on your local channels. And this is the only thing that the NHL can hope for right now. Until then, these players and their league will continue to skate under the radar, just like the MLS and Curling.