Washington Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin announced Wednesday morning on Instagram that his father, Mikhail, has passed away.
Translated from Russian, Ovechkin wrote: “Today I lost my father. I thank everyone for the support, but please be understanding and do not disturb my family in this difficult time for us. Thank you.”
Mikhail Ovechkin was a former soccer player and is credited with fostering the love of sport in his talented young son.
General manager Brian MacLellan announced that Ovechkin had left the team before the team’s morning skate Tuesday. The Capitals at the time were preparing to be without their longtime captain and face of the franchise for an extended period.
At the time, coach Peter Laviolette said he didn’t envision Ovechkin would be back “in the foreseeable future.”
“When it comes to your family and parents, that’s what matters,” Laviolette said. “He’s going to deal with some things right now and we’re going to be supportive.”
Further complicating matters is if Ovechkin returned home to Russia, where his parents and other family members live, as travel restrictions are in place amid the country’s war in Ukraine. There are no direct flights between North America and Moscow.
Most notably, the Capitals face the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL’s Stadium Series outdoors in Raleigh on Saturday night.
Ovechkin, 37, leads Washington with 32 goals and 54 points. He has missed only 48 games throughout his 18-year NHL career, and the Capitals have lost 25 of them.
“Mr. Ovechkin was a true gentleman and was such a significant and consistent presence at Capitals games and practices,” the team said in a statement. “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.”