The Washington Capitals two-game tour of the province of Alberta, Canada, continues tonight when they visit the Oilers in Edmonton, Alberta. In a province of nearly 4.5 million people it is estimated that about 345,000 of those are of Ukrainian descent. And it’s expected that Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals will hear from many of those during tonight’s game.
The Capitals will stand through a Ukrainian version of O Canada on Wednesday night courtesy of the Ukranian Viter Choir and Folk Ensemble. They will be spared the full Ukrainian National anthem only because of the NHL’s rule that a team may play just two anthems before a game.
Fans attending tonight’s game have also been encouraged to don the light-blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag. “We are preparing to encourage fans to wear blue and yellow in support,” Oilers executive vice president, OEG communications and gaming, Tim Shipton revealed.
“We will also launch a special online auction where we will auction off the sticks and helmets with them. And we’ll also hand out Ukrainian flag stickers to our fans courtesy of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress,” he said. Additionally, proceeds from the Oilers’ nightly 50/50 draw will go towards families in Ukraine.
The Capitals had their fair share of support last night in Calgary, as the traditional ring of red rockers lined the glass during warmups.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) March 9, 2022
However, Ovechkin did receive a smattering of boos each time he touched the puck in last nights game. He would also record two goals and tie Jaromir Jagr for third place on the all time goals list.
Definitely some boos and jeering the first time Ovechkin touched the puck tonight pic.twitter.com/PqHmssHpwS
— Salim Nadim Valji (@salimvalji) March 9, 2022
It’s anticipated that the situation will be more of the same in Edmonton, but not all Edmonton fans will be looking to show disapproval of Ovechkin and the Capitals.
“Ach, leave the poor guy alone,” said Bob Olynyk, a legendary minor hockey volunteer of 55 years in these parts. “He’s in a Catch-22 position, you know? The poor guy lives in Russia. So he supported Putin. I mean, he was Putin’s friend. Big deal. Lots of guys supported Putin. Lots of people supported Trump!”
Olynyk added, “I mean, he hasn’t said anything. He’s just shutting his mouth and staying out of it. Why would we want to chastise someone who has done what he’s done for the game?”
According to the Twitter account Sports + Aviation, the Capitals made the 190 mile trip from Calgary to Edmonton late last night after their 5-4 win over the Flames.
🏒 Washington Capitals (@Capitals) #ALLCAPS
🆚 W @ Calgary #Flames #WSHvsCGY
⏩ Edmonton Oilers #LetsGoOilers #WSHvsEDM
✈️ N651DL | DAL8954 | B752
🛫 YYC – 11:45 pm MT
🛬 YEG – 12:15 am MT
📡 Tracking: https://t.co/gYM7C7VgKH pic.twitter.com/mRahcisPT9
— Sports + Aviation (@SportsAviation) March 9, 2022
It’s anticipated that the team will depart for Vancouver, British Columbia, immediately following tonight’s game where they will spend their off-day on Thursday. They face the Canucks in the final game of their western Canada road trip on Friday.
By Jon Sorensen