This Russian Hockey Star Plays For Washington's Team And Has Launched A Pro-Putin Movement

Alexander Ovechkin, the three-time MVP who plays for the Washington Capitals, announced the "Putin Team" movement on Instagram.

Look at this majestic, eagle-clad ice warrior. His name, for those not in the know, is Alexander Ovechkin, and he's the captain of the Washington Capitals.

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We can only assume this means that he fights for freedom on the rink every night, because that's what one does when you're the hockey team for the capital of the US of A.

And this is Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose name translates to Ice Puma,* for that is exactly what he is whenever he dons a pair of skates.

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(*This is objectively untrue.)

On Wednesday, the Moscow-born Ovechkin — who has played for the Capitals since he was drafted in 2001 — announced on Instagram that he was forming a new team: a #PutinTeam.

You see, Putin is up for reelection in March 2018 — his potential fourth term — and though he hasn't announced that's he's running yet, it's widely presumed he will win.

Yuri Kochetkov / AFP / Getty Images

So I guess if you're a Russian athlete it can't hurt to show that you've got his back, even though he has an 80% approval rating.

Most of them, like Ovechkin, who still plays for the Russian national team during the NHL offseason, have close ties to Putin, who like his Soviet forebears sees success in sports as a way to show the strength of the government and country.

Afp / AFP / Getty Images

Ovie, as he's known around Washington where he's hella popular, and Putin are actually pretty dang close. Back in 2011, he said that he had Putin's direct number. Earlier this year he hung out with Putin while the president conducted his annual marathon call-in show.

"No, he does not know anything yet," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when Russian outlet TASS asked about whether Putin was aware of the Putin Team movement.

Michael Klimentyev / AFP / Getty Images

The Washington Capitals didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News and questions about whether the star informed the team of his plans before the announcement.

It does seem like a bit of a weird move when you play in the city that is paying the most attention to the whole "what did Russia do in the last US election and what did Trump know"...thing.

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But I guess only time will tell if this winds up being a bit of deft stick-handling or a crushing own goal.


Ovechkin plays for the Washington Capitals. A previous version of this article's subhed/dek mistakenly said that that he played for the Washington Nationals, which is, in fact, a baseball team that also ends in "als."