As one of the most polarizing professional athletes in the world, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is as used to hearing jeers as he is cheers. Yet, during Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Madison Square Garden faithful serenaded Ovechkin with a unique chant.
During each period Saturday, Rangers fans bound together to count down to the eight-minute mark. Once the scoreboard clock struck the appropriate 8:00, every fan in attendance chanted “Ovi Sucks” in unison, berating Washington’s superstar.
“I hear ‘Ovi Sucks,’ but I didn’t know it was ‘1,2,’” Ovechkin said after Sunday’s practice at MSG.
The chant originally developed during the Rangers’ previous series against the Ottawa Senators. Senators fans counted down from 11:11 to 11:00 before chanting “Alfie” in honor of their captain and No. 11, Daniel Alfredsson, a chant that New Yorkers twisted and used against Ottawa by chanting “Alfie Sucks” at 11:00 during Game 7 Thursday.
Perhaps Rangers fans were onto something; Ovechkin was held to one shot on goal and finished a minus-1 Saturday (they also sporadically chanted “Ovi-Rated” throughout the game). Ovechkin is used to such chants, but hopes that he can convince Rangers fans to change their tune.
“It was good,” Ovechkin said, flashing his trademark gap-toothed grin. “I hope they’re gonna scream, ‘Ovi’s Good.'”