On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals announced that captain Alex Ovechkin would wear custom-painted skates for Russian Heritage Night. The skates would then be auctioned off to raise money for Ovechkin’s favorite charity, the American Special Hockey Association.
Thursday before the Caps took on the Blue Jackets, Ovechkin wore the skates during warmups, becoming the first player in NHL history to ever wear custom-painted skates.
Ovechkin’s wife Nastya Ovechkina showed off the skates on Instagram earlier in the day.
Ovechkin was intent on wearing the fancy boots during the game, but the NHL denied the Russian’s request. Outside of goalie masks, the NHL employs draconian equipment and uniform rules, which limits player individuality as much as possible.
“Obviously I want to play with them, but the league said no,” Ovechkin said to the AP’s Stephen Whyno. “I think they’re sick. They’re pretty cool. It’s something new. Nobody done it before. It’s nice to be first guy.”
The trendsetting Ovechkin also wore custom-painted skates during non-NHL play at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.
During the 2015 Winter Classic, Ovechkin also tallied another NHL fashion first. The Russian machine sported Beats By Dre headphones during warmups. It was not cleared by the league beforehand.
Two years ago, I asked John Dellapina, the NHL’s Group Vice President, Communications, about the incident.
“The Winter Classic is a unique event in many respects, and normal regulations and practices are sometimes relaxed to accommodate the uniqueness of the event (e.g., Alzner’s sunglasses),” Dellapina said. “While no specific request was made in this case, and the accommodation was not a knowing one, it’s not something we are following up on for ‘compliance’ or ‘enforcement’ purposes. We don’t expect that the situation will be repeated, and it certainly won’t be repeated in a normal NHL environment.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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