How much longer can NHL hockey star Alex Ovechkin defend Russian dictator Vladimir Putin given a letter calling for his banning from Canada until he condemns Russia’s war against Ukraine?
Ovechkin’s ties to the Russian President, who launched the deadly war, have undermined his reputation as one of hockey’s top scorers in the NHL.
Alexander Ovechkin had a lasting impact on hockey. The Russian player has been widely recognized as one of his generation’s best since joining the NHL in 2004. But, as the Daily Mail writes, Putin’s ties threaten his reputation.
Ovechkin’s associations with the Russian dictator have drawn criticism, culminating in a letter from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress requesting the Canadian government to refuse Ovechkin’s admission before his Washington Capitals’ trip to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs.
The letter, which was signed by Alexandra Chyczij, National President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, stated that “Ovechkin’s refusal to speak out against the genocide in Russia is committing against Ukraine and his continued support of Putin and the Russian regime is offensive to the Ukrainian community in Canada.”
Ovechkin’s entry into Canada would send the incorrect message to Canadians, who are not happy with the government’s reluctance to take more severe actions against the Russian regime.
“Canada is under no obligation to allow Ovechkin to enter our country,” the letter says. According to the UCC, permitting anyone to enter Canada who does not oppose genocide is incompatible with Canadian values.
Ovechkin scored twice last week against the Winnipeg Jets to record goal number 802. As a result, he became the second-best goal scorer in league history.
Ovechkin has made no secret of his love for the Russian President. Since launching his Instagram account in 2014, Ovechkin has shared over a dozen photos of Putin, some of the President alone and others of the two, like his profile picture.
And Ovechkin has promoted Putin’s political objectives on Instagram. The hockey player launched #PutinTeam in 2017 to mobilize support ahead of the Russian presidential elections.
On November 2 that year, Ovechkin wrote, “I have never concealed my position toward our President, always publicly supporting him. I do not doubt that many of us back Vladimir Putin. So let’s band together and display a powerful and united Russia!”
A few weeks later, Ovechkin declared that PutinTeam’s website and Instagram account had been launched. “Team Putin,” a grouping of nationalists who support strengthening Russia. “We appreciate honesty, justice, and decency in our leader,” the message stated.
Ovechkin said that he started this initiative for non-political reasons.
The hockey player seems to be highly conscious at the time of how his support for the Russian dictator may be seen by Americans, especially given that he plays in Washington, DC.
Ovechkin knows Putin personally in addition to launching a political movement to support his re-election with 77 percent of the vote.
Ovechkin hasn’t uploaded a picture of Putin since 2018. Still, Instagram users have criticized him for not taking the pictures down and for not holding the Russian leader responsible for his decision to start a full-scale war against Ukraine in February 2022.
In a news conference in February, Ovechkin and the Capitals as a club appeared to be avoiding any mention of the conflict.
But Ovechkin’s reluctance to denounce Putin could ruin his reputation in the US, which he considers his second home.
Ovechkin’s silence is getting worrisome and problematic by the day as Putin’s war against Ukraine continues, people are dying, a de-escalation is doubtful, and the Russian regime is becoming a pariah state.