US Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan is disappointed. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, he has been able to play hockey only once since his arrival in Russia.
“Unfortunately, even though I brought my hockey equipment, I was able to use it only once, because a few weeks after my arrival, restrictions were imposed due to the COVID pandemic, and I simply could not participate in hockey games,” Sullivan said in an interview with Interfax on Wednesday.
Sullivan said that he hoped that “when the weather gets colder, I can at least skate on the open skating rink and enjoy the ice.”
Back in February Ambassador Sullivan attended a Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) game between Moscow’s Dinamo and Spartak at the CSKA stadium in the Russian capital. Sullivan told reporters then that Alex Ovechkin was his current favorite player, deeming him “the best player in the world.”
Sullivan attended the game with Russian hockey legend Slava Fetisov, an honorary member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He said “this remains one of the highlights of my stay here in Moscow.”
“And I’m looking forward to more KHL games. It’s a great league with great players. We are lucky to have convinced some of Russia’s best players to play in the US”, Sullivan said.
But Sullivan also loves Capitals hockey and Alex Ovechkin.
“I love hockey. I’m a lifelong season ticket holder for the Washington Capitals. I actually got to meet one of my hockey heroes, Alexander Ovechkin, who’s back in Moscow now after the Capitals’ Stanley Cup playoff run unfortunately ended a little too early for my liking, and certainly for Alexander Ovechkin, the captain of the Capitals, liking.”
Sullivan has been following Ovechkin’s Capitals’ career since day one.
“He [Ovechkin] is a quintessential Russian. I remember when he was 18 and he was just a teenager, he’d score a goal and you could just see the passion, the joy of a teenager. And now [at 35], he’s still doing it, he still loves it. He’s such an inspiring player,” the US ambassador said back in February.
“I saw him score his first goal in Washington – I’ll throw out hockey dates at you – October 5, 2005, he scored his first goal, I saw it. I hope a long time from now, when he scores his last, I hope I’m alive and there to see that as well,” Sullivan added.
“He is a heck of a special player and a special person too. And a great ambassador of the game. His love of the game and of life – it’s just palpable, you just see it in his face and the way he interacts with fans, teammates and opponents. Hard not to like him,” the US envoy concluded.
The American Ambassador also noted the importance of hockey for the US, Canada and Russia.
“I know that here, in Russia, for Russians, hockey is a very important sport. And I think that it is an excellent link between North America and Russia. That is why I spoke about it when I first came here. It’s a simple example of what unites us, our common passion for the game, “he said.
Sullivan firmly believes that hockey is a link and bridge between Russia and North America.
“When I took the oath of office as ambassador to the US State Department, I said that we in the United States are grateful for the opportunity to host great Russian players for many years, starting with Slava Fetisov in the late 80s. And of course there are Canadian and American players and coaches in the KHL. So this is a great link between the United States and Russia, and while I work here, I will continue to talk about it,” Sullivan said.
By Jon Sorensen