In this Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 file photo, Washington Capitals and Team Russia player Alexander Ovechkin promotes the Russian city of Sochi, site of the next winter Olympic games, during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Marcio Sanchez
WASHINGTON - Although disappointed that he was unable to lead Russia to a medal in Olympic hockey, Alex Ovechkin says Canada deserved to take home the gold.
Ovechkin participated in the closing ceremonies Sunday but returned in time to participate in practice with the Washington Capitals on Monday. Although he's looking forward to the resumption of the NHL season, he will always treasure looking back at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The two-time NHL MVP stuck around to the end, even though Russia was eliminated by Canada in the quarter-finals last Wednesday. Ovechkin caught only the final minutes of Canada's 3-2 win over the United States on Sunday.
"I watched only overtime (but) I think Canada deserved to win. They played better," Ovechkin said. "In overtime, Canada seemed more fresh, and (had) more opportunities to score goals."
Asked whether it bothered him that his rival with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, scored the game-winner, Ovechkin said, "In that moment, it doesn't matter."
He still laments his team's performance in a 7-3 defeat to Canada.
"You know, I think every game against Canada, it's something special for everybody. Unfortunately, we lost, we lost pretty badly," Ovechkin said.
"I don't know what happened at that moment, but you know you can see how they move and how they play - and we didn't play at all. It was a pretty bad situation for us, and for our country in that moment, but still, life goes on."
That won't take away from his memory of the Games.
"It was an unbelievable atmosphere, a great time for me," Ovechkin said. "I really enjoyed it. Sometimes it was pretty hard to go out in the streets because there were so many fans around the village, but it was good memory for me. It's going to be for all my life."