Alex Ovechkin was thrilled to score career goal number 767 at home and finally pass Jaromir Jagr for third all-time on the NHL’s goals list, Tuesday night. But after the game, Ovechkin admitted the moment was not perfect.
“Obviously, it’s always fun when you get a milestone and you get a win,” Ovechkin said to the media. “Obviously, it sucks when my kids didn’t see it, my wife didn’t see it, my parents, but they watch it at home. They’re happy and that’s the most important thing.”
The Capitals game would have ended around 5 AM in Moscow time.
“It’s been tough,” Ovechkin said. “We athletes. We just have to do our job and focus on what we do best (which) is play hockey and enjoy our moment.”
From afar, Nastya Ovechkina showed support to her husband by sharing an RMNB photo to her Instagram Story. “3rd on the list of best snipers in NHL history. Proud of you babe ❤️,” Nastya wrote.
Ovechkin has not been with his family since January, a span of about two months. Nastya Ovechkina and son Sergei attended Kids Day at Capital One Arena before jetting across the world.
Ovechkin’s family flew to Russia for their annual birthday celebration of Nastya’s late mother Vera Glagoleva on January 31. The trip also gave Sergei and Ilya time to see their grandparents, Tatyana and Mikhail.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which few Russians thought he would actually do, began on February 24, causing chaos the family could not foresee. As sanctions on Russia were enacted, flights from Russia to the United States became effectively impossible.
Back in DC, Ovechkin faced criticism on social media for his warm relationship with Putin, Russia’s autocratic leader. In the past, Ovechkin put out propaganda supporting the invasion and annexation of Eastern Ukraine (Crimea) in 2014 and aided the Russian president in his re-election bid via the Putin Team.
Ovechkin was quick to address the conflict, holding a press conference a day after it began. Ovechkin said he wanted “no more war” and described the invasion as a “sad situation.” Ovechkin’s comments were open-ended, but he is one of only two Russian NHL players to distance himself from the war, joining the Flames’ Nikita Zadorov, who wrote “stop it” and “no war” on his personal Instagram.
In a press conference with reporters, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Ovechkin was under “an incredible amount of pressure” behind the scenes. So much so that Ovechkin was advised not to change his Instagram profile photo posing with Putin due to worrying headlines it might create and the possible consequences back home according to a New York Times report. On March 4, Ovechkin appeared emotional after scoring his 763rd goal when Capitals fans chanted his name in support.
Ovechkin’s endured boos during road games and been subjected to critical political signs during warmups both home and away. But being split up from his family has been his biggest reckoning due to Putin’s war. And there appears to be no end in sight.