After finishing the regular season as the NHL’s best team, the Washington Capitals fell short of their ultimate goal, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games during the semi-finals. Captain Alex Ovechkin hasn’t made it past the second round of the playoffs during his entire 11-season career, but despite some national media reports, this season’s early exit was not Ovechkin’s fault.
Ovechkin, along with John Carlson, led the team in points (12) this postseason. Ovechkin finished second to TJ Oshie in goals with five. During breakdown day Thursday, Ovechkin admitted to struggling through the regular season with a nagging injury.
“It was my back, lower back,” Ovechkin said. “Right now it’s gone. The trainers did a great job to keep me safe and healthy.”
This weekend, we also learned of something else Ovechkin was dealing with privately. According to a Russian TV program, two days before the playoffs began Alex Ovechkin’s father Mikhail suffered a heart attack, which caused the family to call for an ambulance.
Match TV, which is the main all-sports TV outlet in Russia, first reported the news during a thirty-minute long episode of Tochka (which means period in Russian). The Caps’ four Russian players — Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and Stanislav Galiev — were the focus, as the show documented and interviewed each player during the start of the playoffs.
Match TV is financed by the large Russian natural gas company, Gazprom. The network is the brainchild of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mikhail’s illness was mentioned briefly near the end of the episode.
“Unusually, Alex’s parents were not at the first game against the Flyers, and now we can tell you why,” Match TV’s Anton Alkhimovich, the host of Tochka says, as translated by RMNB’s Igor Kleyner. “Two days before the playoffs, Mikhail Ovechkin suffered a heart attack and was taken by ambulance to Virginia Hospital Center, where he underwent a four-hour surgery the next day.”
A source close to the matter tells RMNB that the illness was not a heart attack as reported. Mikhail Ovechkin is now in Russia and is doing well.
In January, Ovechkin’s parents were famously in Washington for their son’s 500th goal. Mikahil was seen on TV shaking his fist in support during Ovechkin’s post-game interview in front of the Verizon Center crowd. The family returned to Russia before flying back to DC in April to support their son during the playoffs.
Alkhimovich asked Ovechkin about his father after practice.
“Everything is fine,” Ovechkin responded somberly.
During the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Ovechkin’s father had heart trouble. Via Yahoo:
Russia’s stunning elimination from the Olympic hockey tournament was followed by somber family news for Alex Ovechkin, whose father is recovering from heart surgery after falling ill in Sochi.
Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee said Thursday that Mikhail Ovechkin fell ill following Russia’s game against Slovakia on February 16, 2014. McPhee said Mikhail Ovechkin “probably had a heart attack” and is now stable and out of intensive care.
McPhee said Alex Ovechkin was not told about his father’s situation until Russia was eliminated by Finland in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. He said father and son are still in Sochi, and that Alex Ovechkin will delay his return to the U.S.
In February, Ovechkin’s mother Tatyana dealt with a bout of pneumonia.
Additional reporting by Igor Kleyner.
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