I haven’t made any try to cover my enjoyment of Alex Ovechkin when writing about him prior to now. I discover his pursuit of Wayne Gretzky’s purpose report to be one of many extra fascinating elements of the NHL proper now. His metronomic but stratospheric manufacturing over 17 years now’s actually astonishing, and all of us do that type of factor to be amazed occasionally. It additionally was close to not possible to not share within the glee that Ovechkin clearly has each time he’s on the ice. Watch him, and you’ll nonetheless simply see the boy that first bought on the ice 30 years in the past or wherever it was. If we watch to really feel like youngsters once more, if just for a short time, it actually couldn’t be extra on show than with No. 8.
ESPN’s Greg Whyshynski had a fairly thorough article yesterday about all of the issues Russian gamers of all ages are dealing with proper now. It’s clearly not simple for gamers 1000’s of miles from residence who haven’t any say and are having god is aware of what thrust on them from all angles. However Ovechkin is the highest identify. And he needs to be. You’ll be able to say that in some methods, he requested for it.
Ovie has by no means been shy about his relationship and affection for Vladimir Putin. I wouldn’t accuse Ovechkin of being silly, however I additionally would recommend that the waters most likely don’t run all that deep both. I’d wish to say that Ovechkin has boiled it all the way down to a easy equation. “President = Good,” which a good few on this nation have at all times accomplished as nicely. I’d wish to consider that Ovechkin by no means gave it rather more thought than that, loved getting consideration and esteem from probably the most highly effective individual in his nation. It will be onerous to not be captivated with such a factor, however the politics are past him as they’re with most hockey gamers from wherever.
However as Wyshynski factors out, Ovie has pushed his political beliefs to the fore beforehand. It was through the invasion of Crimea eight years in the past. Now once more, this could possibly be Ovechkin simply lapping up what he’s being fed, and as we are able to all attest, that’s hardly distinctive both. But it surely’s nonetheless taking a stand, and a daunting one.
When Ovechkin lastly spoke in regards to the present invasion, he by no means talked about Ukraine or the Ukrainian individuals. It was a pawing on the best department to succeed in for, that of straightforward and generic “peace.” That feels too easy, and given what he’s mentioned prior to now, you wouldn’t be remiss in considering that Ovechkin merely doesn’t care about Ukraine or its residents. We’ll nearly definitely by no means know if that’s the case, however the doubt is sufficient to make one really feel uneasy if not worse.
We are able to’t give a proportion or quantity for who’s accountable, however Putin definitely positioned himself subsequent to Ovechkin to boost his profile and Ovechkin definitely didn’t run from that, even taking satisfaction in being an help to him. All of these little gestures have helped result in the delusions that Putin has which are inflicting the deaths of 1000’s. The gestures might need been small, the opinions and quotes harmless sufficient or uninformed on the time. The implications now are gargantuan.
This isn’t a name for Ovechkin to be barred from taking part in within the NHL. Although I may definitely see the place some assume it needs to be no less than mentioned. However then the place does that snowball cease rolling?
Nonetheless, when watching Ovechkin now, what followers need or wished was a transparent signal that Ovechkin thought the invasion of a sovereign nation was flawed, and so they didn’t get it. It’s not for hockey gamers to weigh in on world issues, as they will be the least geared up to take action. However Ovechkin isn’t an atypical participant. And he’s not an atypical Russian within the NHL. Nobody made him place himself so intently to Putin (although there’s a college of thought he has to nonetheless accomplish that now out of concern for kin nonetheless in Russia, and we are able to’t dismiss that). Nobody made him maintain up #SayNoToFacism indicators in 2014. He opened this door.
What I do know is that final evening, tuning into the Caps-Canes recreation for a bit the place he scored purpose No. 763, I didn’t really feel the identical means watching him. There are most likely heaps that don’t. It’s a disgrace, and Ovechkin can’t declare it has nothing to do with him.