Bruce Boudreau said it's like travelling with John, Paul, George and Ringo.
"I've seen a lot of documentaries on the Beatles. And it looked a lot like this," the Washington Capitals coach said yesterday, describing what it was like in Vancouver the night before the game.
"The Canucks had just beat us and yet people are 100 deep around our bus chanting 'Ovie! Ovie! Ovie!' We couldn't get up the road.
"I know it was like this with Wayne Gretzky," said the Toronto native of the way it was when No. 99 became the biggest name in the game, scoring 50 goals in 39 games.
"I'm guessing this was very Gretzky-like."
Boudreau was asked if he ever thought he'd see this kind of reaction to a Russian hockey player in Canada.
"No," he said. And he says he's not quite sure if he wants to see it again.
"I love coming home to Canada, but being in Vancouver for three days was a little much," he said of Ovie-mania.
With the Capitals arriving on their charter in the wee hours of the morning and Ovechkin having no appearances scheduled outside the arena, it was predictably less Beatles-like.
There were dozens of kids wearing Ovechkin sweaters positioned behind the glass in the first few rows of the visitors end for the pre-game warm- up. And by the time the puck was dropped, more people were wearing Washington Capitals sweaters than likely existed in all of Western Canada before Ovechkin.
He received a bigger cheer than any of the Oilers when he stepped on the ice for the first time. Fans held up signs such as "Alexander the Gr8" and "The One and Ovie."
Ovechkin has been a study on his first visit to Western Canada since October of 2006.
"He's handled it with aplomb," said the coach, who could have scrapped the morning skate on back-to-back games but instead made it an optional with near perfect attendance -- including The Great 8.
"He's handled it very well," Boudreau added after watching the two-time Hart Trophy and Rocket Richard Trophy winner do his duty with the largest media contingent to attend a morning skate this season.
Ovechkin was asked in his media scrum if he'd rather visit every year or, considering the response and reaction, if he's happy not making this an annual event.
"So I can see you guys? So I can see different guys?" he laughed of the media gathering.
"I'm in my fifth year in the NHL and I'm in Edmonton only second time," he said.
"It's just the schedule. It is what it is. You can't do nothing about it."
Indeed, Ovechkin's visit brought back a lot of memories of travelling around the league with Gretzky.
It's been all Ovechkin, all the time. Every interview was about Ovechkin. And what people said about him had more impact than what he was saying about himself.
Like Oilers coach Pat Quinn, who gave Ovechkin one of the greatest compliments yet.
"We don't see enough of him out here. He's a wonderful talent and a real gift to our NHL game. He's fun to watch," said Quinn.
"He's taken on the responsibility of being the best he can be and when you have that sort of an attitude -- when your best player displays an attitude of that nature -- boy, you're lucky to have him because sometimes your best players aren't there like that.
"It would be nice to see him more often."
Ovechkin says he likes compliments like that because they're real, not because he's a famous face.
"For me it's not the most important thing to be a face or something. For me, I want to play hockey.
"I want to be one of the best players in the NHL -- in the world.
"When they say that, it means they respect me for being a player, not for my face."
He said what you see is what you get, and if you expect him to become somebody different, well, nyet.
"It's my life, it's my way," he said.
"If somebody don't like it, they don't like it. If somebody likes it, then good. I am who I am. I am not going to change."
He'll never be slick and polished. But there's a refreshing, likable honesty about him.
Like when somebody asked about Edmonton.
"Snow. Cold. Seems like Russia. Just like home, yeah.
"It's OK. I like home."