Is Ovie captain material?

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:24 PM ET

WASHINGTON With his flashy yellow skate laces, gap-toothed smile and jaw-dropping moves on the ice, its hard to miss Alex Ovechkin.

But as a leader of men?

The Capitals superstar certainly is comfortable in his own skin, but he also may realize his personality is such that he might get under the skin of others. So, before he accepted the role of team captain, Ovie made sure the rest of his teammates were on board with the plan.

I told Bruce (coach Boudreau), if the guys want it, I will take it, Ovechkin said prior to Fridays game against the Maple Leafs at the Verizon Center. But I like it on my sweater.

There was little doubt in Boudreaus mind that Ovechkin could handle the responsibility and that the players would look up to him eventually. But its one thing to lead the team in scoring and be capable of single-handedly changing the flow of a game and something quite different to be the steady influence required of a captain.

So what about No. 8s reputation for occasionally acting the age of his jersey number and not his 24 years?

Its only been a week, but maybe over the course of time we will see him change, that he will be a little more serious than he was a year or two ago, alternate captain Mike Knuble said on Friday. But he is getting a little older, too. He has accomplished a lot as an individual but he wants to accomplish a lot as a team as well, so you have to be serious.

You just dont want him to change as a player on the ice.

If Boudreau were worried about that happening, you can be sure he wouldnt even have considered Ovie as a replacement captain for Chris Clark, who was shipped to Columbus in late December.

But perhaps its a way to get the charismatic Russian to continue to evolve as an influential force on the Caps.

He is our leader. Hes got 12 more years on his deal and hes going to be here for a while, Boudreau said. The guys all respect him and he was a natural choice.

I asked his teammates and they said emphatically that hes the guy.


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