It’s not often that hockey players lean into the political spotlight very often, but Alexander Ovechkin just jumped in head first.
It has not been a mystery that Ovechkin has had a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the course of his NHL career, but he cleared up any questions today on Instagram. Ovechkin posted a long message detailing how much he values a team mentality on and off the ice, and when he met with Putin’s team recently he decided he wanted to be a part of it.
Here is an approximate translation of his caption on the photo:
“Personal awards and trophies are all great, but in hockey, as in any case, the team is always more important. Only as a team can we change the game and achieve the impossible.
Recently the Western press has reported my meeting with ‘Putin’s team’, and you know, I really liked their term for it. Personally, I’m ready to join his ‘team’. I never hid my relationship with our president, and have always openly supported him. And I’m sure a lot of people feel the same. So let’s come together and show everyone what a strong nation looks like.
Today I want to announce that I’m creating a public movement called Putin’s Team. It brings me much pride to be part of this – much like the feeling of wearing Russia’s national jersey and knowing that the whole country is rooting for you.”
As we mentioned above, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to many. Ovechkin even received a personal wedding gift from the Russian president when he married Nastya Ovechkina over the summer.
This could also give us an idea of what Ovechkin’s plan for the 2018 Olympics are, as Evgeni Malkin mentioned Ovechkin’s relationship with the president over the summer when he was asked about his own participation.
Ovechkin has clearly been wanting to get involved in more work outside of hockey in recent weeks, as he even started doing some charity work.