Washington Caps fans know Alex Ovechkin as the team captain who breaks records and lights up the ice. But only a few know that “Ovi” laces his skates to play with three other hockey teams—the Washington Ice Dogs, the Montgomery Cheetahs, and the NOVA Cool Cats—as part of the American Special Hockey Association, a league for children with developmental disabilities. Ovechkin connects with the youngsters, making jokes, passing pucks, and coaching. “If we have some success,” he says, “it’s important that we don’t forget these kids.”
Last season, Ovechkin knew that the last player drafted for the NHL All-Star Game rosters would get a Honda Accord. He campaigned to be that player. He didn’t succeed, but when officials learned he’d planned to donate the car to ASHA, he was given one after all.
Rockville lawyer Dan Goldman’s son plays with the Cheetahs. “Just the chance to go out and play a sport like other kids is huge,” he says. “For my son, it was a connection to a bigger world—he got a high-five from Ovi, then we went to a Caps game and saw Ovi in the middle of a packed Verizon Center.” Benzi Goldman felt like he’d scored.
This article appears in our January 2016 issue of Washingtonian.