This opinion was written by Joel Wasserman, a longtime Washington Capitals fan and a native of Rockville, MD. Joel has been living, working, and volunteering in Ukraine for the past four years. He is now in Lviv, where he is helping with humanitarian efforts. Joel is a longtime reader of RMNB and played in RMNB’s hockey tournaments before moving to Ukraine.
Sports fans in Washington DC had a really rough go of it for most of my lifetime. Starting in 2009 (when I first became a fan), the Washington Capitals, led by their superstar Alexander Ovechkin, started giving the city some hope that a championship could finally come to the city in one of the big four American sports leagues for the first time since right before I was born.
That hope would only be realized after I left the US for Kyiv, Ukraine in March 2018 to volunteer as an English teacher for veterans of the Donbas War and their families. Just as the sun was rising in Kyiv on June 8th of that year, I watched Alexander Ovechkin lift the Stanley Cup. I had my mom with me on a video call, as hockey has long been one of the things we shared together.
The Washington Capitals bowed out of their first-round playoff matchup against the Florida Panthers recently, but I couldn’t bring myself to watch any of the games. Alexander Ovechkin’s relationship with Vladimir Putin is just something I could not bring myself to forgive anymore.