- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2022

Passing Jaromir Jagr on the NHL’s career goals list was more than just any achievement for Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin, who scored his 767th career goal on Tuesday for third all-time and most among European players, received loud chants from Capitals fans after the milestone goal — much different than the boos he received from Calgary fans during a trip in Western Canada last week. But the 36-year-old star did admit the enjoyment of the milestone was hindered by his family being in Russia and not in Washington, D.C., to witness the goal in person. 

“Obviously, it’s always fun when you get a milestone and you get a win,” Ovechkin told reporters after the game. “Obviously, it sucks when my kids didn’t see it, my wife didn’t see it, my parents, but they watch it at home. They’re happy, and that’s the most important thing.”
He also said the last few weeks have been “tough.” 

Despite being one of the few Russian NHL players to respond to their country’s invasion of Ukraine, Ovechkin has received blowback from sports fans and lost sponsors due to his past support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During a press conference the day after Putin ordered strikes on Ukraine, Ovechkin said “please, no more war” but stopped short of condemning the Russian president. He also obfuscated when he was asked directly if he still supports Putin, for whom Ovechkin campaigned on social media in 2017.

Ovechkin’s profile picture still remains one of him posing with Putin — a choice Ovechkin reportedly made after counsel from advisors. 

“It’s been tough,” Ovechkin said. “We athletes. We just have to do our job and focus on what we do best — play hockey and enjoy our moment.”

Ovechkin is now 34 goals behind Gordie Howe (801) and 127 behind Wayne Gretzky (894) for most in NHL history. 

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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