What would you do if Alex Ovechkin was on the same flight as you?
For longtime Capitals fan Kevin Steidler, the answer was to freak out inside and keep a respectful distance as to not bother the future Hockey Hall of Famer.
Steidler was on the same connecting flight as Ovechkin, which took the two from Instanbul, Turkey, to Washington DC late Saturday/Sunday morning. Ovechkin, as he revealed in Russia, is officially back in the area ahead of the 2023-24 season.
The Capitals’ captain was joined on the flight by his family: wife Nastya and his two children, Sergei and Ilya.
Alex Ovechkin is on our flight from Turkey headed back to DC right now! It’s 7:30 am here.
It’s funny because I was amidst a 20-hour leg of flights from Mykonos, Greece, to Istanbul to DC. I had been up for about 30 hours straight and finally fell asleep in Istanbul when my fiancée shook me awake and told me to look up.
Lo and behold, Ovi is practically standing right over me with Nastya and his two kids running around in their reverse retro hats! I honestly thought I was still dreaming. It was such a weird thing to wake up to. Of course, I wanted to go talk to him, but I figured he didn’t wanna be bothered. It was like 5 am and if he was in Istanbul that means he also just came in from elsewhere (Moscow, I guess), so he was probably tired as well.
It also just cracked me up how he’s this multi millionaire with his Louis Vuitton luggage, yet there he was rocking an Adidas T shirt and sweats with one pant leg rolled up. Typical Ovi fashion!
The moment was exciting for Steidler because he has been a fan of the Capitals since he was a kid. He went to his first game on January 1, 1997, when the Caps took on the Hartford Whalers. He recalls that the team gave away free lunch boxes, which ended up being his de facto food carrier in elementary school. As he grew up, Steidler keep watching and rooting for the team. He became a season ticket holder from 2015 through 2018.
Steidler’s vacation started in Bulgaria as that’s where his fiancée is from. They travel to her home country every summer for a week to visit her family. Then they go elsewhere in Europe for an actual vacation. This year, they decided to go to Greece to see Athens and then island hopped to Paros where he proposed. They concluded their trip in Mykonos for a couple nights of celebration, which set in motion the chance meeting.
Steidler attempted to get a photo with Ovechkin once they got off the plane but there was never a good opportunity.
“He was next to us in customs too and it was just funny seeing him get questioned by the TSA agent like everyone else and having to lift his sons up so they could have their picture taken by the camera,” Steidler said. “In baggage claim, he’s got three of those massive duffle bags in Caps branding plus about 12 more suitcases. It couldn’t all even fit on two of those carts so they had to get a IAD employee to come help him roll everything outside.”
The experience ended when the group of passengers went through customs.
“My fiancée got detained by TSA at the baggage claim,” Steidler said. “I had just proposed in Greece and she brought home some of the roses I had given her and a TSA agent spotted them and pulled us aside to check for pests which might have come in with them. Thankfully they just gave her a quick, stern talking to but Ovi was long gone by the time we got out of their office.”
Still, that sounds like a memory and a week Kevin will never forget. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your engagement!
Headline photo: Kevin Steidler
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