Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Alex Ovechkin has been in the spotlight, along with other NHL players. The Washington Capitals captain has received criticism for his previous support of Vladimir Putin, as well as his Instagram profile picture that features him and the Russian president.
However, per the New York Times, the Russian was planning to change his Instagram profile picture to a symbol for world peace following his press conference in Philadelphia, where he pleaded for “no more war” and a peaceful resolution. However, advisors told him to keep the same photo in fear of backlash. His family remains overseas.
“He was advised not to change his Instagram profile picture because it would not go over well in Russia,” David Shoalts wrote in the article, adding, “There was a plan to change the picture to a symbol for world peace after the news conference, but since Ovechkin’s wife, two children and parents are currently in Russia, it was decided the photo of him and Putin would stay.”
Ovechkin addressed the media and the ongoing conflict on Feb. 25. He said it was a “hard situation” and also asked for world peace amid the conflict.
“How I said, my family over there. Of course [we] pay attention what’s happened out there. I don’t want to see nobody get hurt, nobody get killed. How I said, hope it’s going to be over, and we going to be living in good world,” Ovechkin said, adding, “Please no more war. Doesn’t matter who’s in the war. Russia, Ukraine, different countries. I think we live in the world, like we have to live in peace and great world.”
READ MORE ON WHN: McDavid Discusses Ovechkin, Capitals Captain’s Impact
General manager Brian MacLellan also acknowledged the pressure that No. 8 is facing as he continues to lace ’em up for the Capitals.
“He’s a good person, he’s an emotional person and he takes things personally,” MacLellan said. “I think he’s been put under an incredible amount of pressure. For us, it’s about how do we support him. He’s been the face of our franchise and the face of hockey in this area. His family has grown up here, his kids are from here, and because of his status, he’s put in a hard situation to probably handle… it’s really hard for him. We talk to him. He gets pressure from all sides — from North America, from Russia, from family, from a lot of different people, and he tries to sort it out. So we try to support him.”
The Capitals released a statement on Tuesday condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They also shared that they are fully supporting their Russian players. Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov are the current Russians on the roster. Aliaksei Protas, who hails from Belarus, played 33 games for Washington this season. He is currently with Hershey.
“Monumental Sports & Entertainment and the Washington Capitals join the National Hockey League in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the loss of innocent life. We urge and hope for a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible,” the team wrote in a statement. “The Capitals also stand in full support of our Russian players and their families overseas. We realize they are being put in a difficult situation and stand by to offer our assistance to them and their families.”
Ovechkin is currently on a three-game goal-scoring streak. He also tied Jaromir Jagr for the third-most goals in NHL history on Tuesday. Washington faces Edmonton at 8 p.m. ET.