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Backstrom Emotional Sharing Memories With Ovechkin’s Father: ‘He Was Always Happy’

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom recalled his time with Alex Ovechkin’s father, Mikhail, and shared memories of him. Mikhail died on Wednesday.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — When Nicklas Backstrom first came into the league, he didn't speak English, and neither could Alex Ovechkin's father, Mikhail. However, the two communicated with their hands and from there formed an immediate bond.

Both Ovechkin and Backstrom have spent years together in the organization, with both forming something of a brotherhood over the last decade and change and even playing half a season together in Russia with the KHL's Dynamo Moscow during the 2012-13 lockout. And through it all, Mikhail was a big part of that relationship. So for Backstrom, the news of Mikhail's death was difficult to process on Wednesday.

"It's very tough obviously because he's been around a lot. I've been with Alex since I got here, and he was here hanging out with his dad a lot," Backstrom recalled. "We always brought him around to basketball games and stuff like that. I can't believe it. It's just so sad, and I feel for the whole Ovechkin family."

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Backstrom was emotional as he shared memories of his close friend and longtime teammate's father, and what stood out to him the most was his enthusiasm and love for the game and his son.

"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," Backstrom 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.

"They were so tight. I think their whole family's really tight, and they always have been," he added. "It's not just the dad, the mom, too. I mean, they're really close family, it's got to be devastating."

Washington announced on Tuesday Ovechkin would be away from the team indefinitely to attend to his family. He texted his team the news on Wednesday morning and left for Russia to be with his mother and the rest of his family. The Capitals said that Ovechkin has his full support and can take the time he needs to grieve and cope.

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