Wednesday brought the terribly sad news of the passing of Alex Ovechkin’s father Mikhail.
Capitals players met with the media after their optional practice on Wednesday for the first time since learning of the death of their good friend’s father.
The locker room was quiet as one of Ovi’s best buddies and longest-tenured teammate Nicklas Backstrom spoke about his relationship with Mikhail and gave his condolences to the whole Ovechkin family.
“I can’t believe it,” Backstrom said. “It’s just so sad. I feel for the whole Ovechkin family. It’s a tough day.”
Perhaps no one in the entire organization, other than Alex himself, knew Mikhail better than Backstrom. Alex and Nicklas basically grew up in DC together. Backstrom witnessed Mikhail’s jovial, bubbly presence firsthand.
“It’s very tough,” Backstrom said. “He’s been around a lot and I’ve been hanging out with Alex since I got here. We were hanging out a lot with his dad. We always brought him around like basketball games and stuff like that.
Mikhail never stopped attending his son’s practices at the Capitals’ training facility and games at Capital One Arena until his health stopped him from doing so. He was an ever-present figure around the Caps during the starts of both Alex and Nicklas’ careers. That’s something Backstrom remembers fondly.
“The one thing I will always remember is he was always happy,” Backstrom said. “He would always smile. We both didn’t speak English in the beginning but we could understand each other with our hands. He was part of the beginning of when Alex got over here. He was always in the locker room, he was hanging out with the guys. He loved that, I think. That’s what he loved.”
Mikhail was a true hockey dad and had a huge impact on his son’s hockey career, taking Alex to all of his practices when The Great Eight was a kid. He called Ovi going on to be drafted first overall by the Capitals in the 2004 NHL Draft his “most pleasant moment.”
“They were so tight,” Backstrom said. “I think their whole family is really tight. They always have been and will always be. They’re a really close family. It’s gotta be devastating for them… To get hit with this sad news is really tough. I feel for the whole family. I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
Screenshot via @Capitals/Twitter
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