Photo: Alex Ovechkin/Twitter
Over the past few weeks, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has received significant backlash in the wake of his native Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for keeping the profile picture of he and Russian President Vladimir Putin on his official Instagram account. However, a new report offers insight into why the 36-year old has not removed the photo, despite the criticism.
According to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan (listen to the full podcast HERE) the Capitals asked Ovechkin to remove the photo from his Instagram profile and/or deactivate his Instagram account. However, the 2004 first overall pick declined each time, citing fear for his family’s safety if he were to do so. Listen below:
But Ovechkin declined, citing fear for the safety of his family in Russia.
— Pablo Torre (@PabloTorre) March 11, 2022
Ovechkin’s wife, Nastya Ovechkina, and sons Sergei (3) and Ilya (1), as well as his parents Mikhail and Tatyana, are currently in Russia. Ovechkin’s past endorsement of and relationship with Putin, and his high profile status in Russia have led to a challenging few weeks for the Capitals’ franchise player. Ovechkin spoke to the media regarding the Russian invasion, calling for “no war”, but has still faced pressure from “all sides”, according to General Manager Brian MacLellan.
The Capitals and other teams around the National Hockey League have increased security for players in the wake of world events, and many sponsors and companies have pulled marketing of their products using Russian players, and international competitions have banned Russia from participating.
According to Kaplan, one Russian player described their situation as “impossible”, and revealed there are concerns regarding visas for Russian players going forward and the impact the invasion may have on potential Russian players in the NHL Entry Draft. The Capitals, and NHL have condemned the actions of Russia, while voicing their support for their Russian players.
By Michael Fleetwood