Alex Ovechkin learned Monday afternoon of the death of an uncle. Coach Bruce Boudreau described him as pretty shook up about the news.
But Ovechkin, like any normal person would, had trouble getting a flight to Moscow on Monday. So he was on the ice for Tuesday’s practice, the first with the roster the Capitals are expected to star the regular season with.
It appeared to be with a heavy heart.
“It’s got to be tough on him,” Boudreau said. “You didn’t see him doing a whole lot of smiling out there.”
But Ovechkin was there, skating on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble, just like old times. And his coach was proud of his captain for practicing under such difficult circumstanes.
“He came in great shape; he doesn’t want to lose it in four days,” Boudreau said. “This was an inopportune time – well, it’s always an inopportune time for that to happen.”
Ovechkin was not made available to the media after practice. Boudreau confirmed Tuesday that the Caps expect him to fly back Friday night and play Saturday night against the Hurricanes.
“It’s a lot of strain. He’s that kind of guy. And we promote – it’s family first,” Boudreau said. “If something’s wrong, you’ve got to take care of your family. George [McPhee] and I have said, as long as it takes. You come back when you’re ready.”