Alex Ovechkin speaks on retirement
(Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels/ Wikimedia Commons)

Alex Ovechkin, the esteemed leader of the Washington Capitals, has been more open about the idea of retirement as he approaches a milestone of two decades in the NHL.

At the beginning of the current season, Ovechkin spontaneously discussed retirement while reflecting on his love for hockey. “I’m still enjoying it,” he said in October. “The day that changes, I’ll recognize it’s time for me to leave and not play the game the way I’ve always played.”

The subject came up again in a recent interview with Igor Rabiner of Sport-Express, conducted in Russian. Rabiner asked Ovechkin if he anticipates retiring after his present contract with the Capitals ends. “I think so,” Ovechkin admitted, according to a translation by Google Translate.

This conversation followed after Rabiner mentioned Ovechkin’s former teammate, Ilya Kovalchuk, who at 40, returned to play in the KHL with Spartak Moscow after not playing professionally since the end of the 2020-21 season.

“I sometimes look at the KHL scores,” Ovechkin mentioned. “Ilya is doing great; we spoke recently. He’s preparing for the playoffs. With his commitment and health, he could play until he’s fifty, if he wants to.”

When Rabiner questioned if Ovechkin, now 38, could see himself playing until fifty, Ovechkin simply said, “No.”

In the past, Ovechkin, whose contract with the NHL’s Capitals lasts until the 2025-26 season, has suggested he might end his career with a stint at Dynamo Moscow in the KHL, the club where he started and played during the 2012-13 NHL lockout. However, it appears a return to Dynamo Moscow is not currently on Ovechkin’s agenda.

Another topic of interest for hockey fans is whether Ovechkin will break Wayne Gretzky’s legendary all-time goals record. Ovechkin is just fifty-eight goals away from tying “The Great One” for the top spot.

Before this season, which saw Ovechkin go through a notable slump, the thought of him not surpassing Gretzky’s record before his contract’s end was hardly considered. Now, with the challenges he’s faced in his 38-year-old season, there’s talk about whether Ovechkin might need more time with the Capitals to pursue the record.

When Rabiner asked about any such plans, Ovechkin brushed off the speculation. “I’m not a fan of ‘what-ifs’,” he said. “We’re focused on the present, playing our game, and looking ahead.”