ARLINGTON, Va. — Alex Ovechkin’s father, Mikhail, died Wednesday at 71 years old, the Capitals forward announced in an Instagram post. Ovechkin took a leave of absence Tuesday to be with his family.
“Today I lost my father,” Ovechkin wrote in Russian. “I thank everyone for the support but please be understanding and do not disturb my family in this difficult time for us! Thank you.”
Ovechkin’s father lived in the family’s home country and had not traveled to the U.S. for several years due to his health. He did, however, meet many of his son’s Capitals teammates including center Nicklas Backstrom, who has played with Ovechkin since 2007.
“It’s very tough, obviously, because he’s been around a lot…and I’ve been hanging out with Alex since I got here,” Backstrom said at practice Wednesday. “He was here, we were hanging out a lot with his dad. We always brought him around to basketball games, stuff like that. I can’t believe it. It’s just so sad and I feel for the whole Ovechkin family and yeah it’s a tough day.”
The Capitals made practice optional for players Wednesday and released a statement sharing their support for their captain and his family.
“The Washington Capitals organization is saddened to hear of the passing of our captain Alex Ovechkin’s father, Mr. Mikhail Ovechkin. Mr. Ovechkin was a true gentleman and was such a significant and consistent presence at Capitals games and practices. With a constant smile on his face, he loved interacting with our fans and expressing his gratitude for their support of his son, of whom he was incredibly proud. Our organization’s thoughts are with the Ovechkin family at this difficult time.”