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Capitals Giving Ovechkin As Much Time As He Needs To Mourn: ‘He Has Our Full Support’

The Washington Capitals plan to give Ovechkin all the time he needs to mourn the death of his father, Mikhail. He is on leave and away from the team indefinitely.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin left on Wednesday morning to go back home to Russia and be with his family after the death of his father, Mikhail. He is on leave and is away from the team indefinitely, and the Capitals organization plans to give him as much time as he needs to grieve, cope and process his dad's passing.

Head coach Peter Laviolette shared more on the situation after the team's optional skate and said that Washington is rallying around its captain, who has been designated non-roster status at this time.

"He has our full support," Laviolette said.

Ovechkin texted the organization and his teammates on Wednesday to share the news and announced it publicly on social media. Mikhail was 71 years old.

"The one thing I'll always remember is he was always happy. He would always smile… he was part of the beginning when Alex got here," Nicklas Backstrom, who spent a lot of time with Ovechkin's father over the years, said. "He was always in the locker room, he was hanging out with the guys, he loved that, I think. That's what he loved, so to get hit by this sad news is obviously really tough. I feel for the whole family, I can't imagine what they're going through."

READ MORE ON WHN: Nicklas Backstrom Reflects On Time, Memories With Alex Ovechkin's Father

With Ovechkin out and the team in the throes of a tight playoff race, the Capitals plan to play hard for him and support him in any way they can.

"We wish we were all with him right now. I hope he knows how much he means to us and how much we're thinking of him and his family," Garnet Hathaway said. "There's a lot of love in this room for him and his family. So we're really sad and sorry."

"We're part of a family here in this locker room," Matt Irwin added. "We're thinking about him, he's a huge part of our team, the best thing for what I think O would want for us is to win some hockey games while he's gone… that's how we can support him on the ice. But obviously, we're all supporting him off the ice and really thinking about him and his family right now."

Tom Wilson was also emotional after hearing the news and said that Washington has his back no matter what, especially considering how much Ovechkin has done for the club on and off the ice.

"All we can [do] is be there for him like he's been there for us. You never want to see a teammate go through that," Wilson said, adding "O's always a bigger-than-life kind of guy and his dad is that way, too. Obviously, the mom is a huge part of it, but I think Ovi's dad was there for him, he was his guy and it's a bond… we're there for him, they've always treated us in this room as family and we'll be there for him [for] as much time as it takes to pick up the slack here and do our best."

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