Alex Ovechkin returns to practice for first time since father Mikhail's passing
Ovechkin returns to practice for first time since father’s passing originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since his father, Mikhail Ovechkin, passed away a week prior at the age of 71.
Alex Ovechkin, 37, traveled to be with his family in Russia for his father’s passing last week. He remained there until early this week, missing Washington’s last four games.
“It is what it is, you know. It’s life. Obviously, it was a hard week, mentally, physically,” Ovechkin said following Wednesday’s practice. “But thanks for everybody’s support, the fans and the organization.”
The Capitals played the Florida Panthers at home the day after Mikhail’s passing. The team aired a tribute to Mikhail on the jumbotron at Capital One Arena prior to puck drop, and several players and analysts offered the Ovechkin family their condolences over the course of the night.
“I saw what they put on the jumbotron. It means a lot, it’s special,” Ovechkin said. “All my teammates here – I have full support.”
Ovechkin shared that his mother, Tatyana, and his older brother, also named Mikhail, would travel to Washington sometime in the next month to be together during a difficult time.
As for his health and conditioning, Ovechkin indicated that Wednesday’s session wasn’t so much a ‘practice’ as it was a skate-around for him to regain his feel for the ice. At the time he met with the media, Ovechkin had not yet spoken with head coach Peter Laviolette about returning to game action. The plan for that remains ongoing.
He also spoke about the influence his late father had on his life and his hockey career.
“He gave me everything – all his health, all his time,” Ovechkin said. “He traveled with me all over the world. Been at every practice whenever he have a chance.”
Washington could surely use Ovechkin’s services. The team is on a five-game losing skid, most recently taking a 3-1 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings at home on Tuesday. Over that five-game rut, Washington has scored a total of eight goals.
Ovechkin is the team’s leading scorer on the season with 32 goals and 22 assists in 54 games. Their next leading goal scorer, Marcus Johansson, has scored 13 goals this year.
“It was probably the toughest situation I’ve been through in my whole NHL career,” Ovechkin said of his father’s passing. “But how I said, it’s life and we move on. Thanks everybody for their support back home, here.”