The Washington Capitals winger hails from Moscow, Russia.
Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin announced Thursday that he is creating a re-election campaign on social media for Russian president Vladimir Putin, calling the social movement the "Putin Team."
The Russian ice hockey star laid out the idea in an Instagram post.
"Personal achievements and medals - all of this great, but in hockey, like with everything, to win it's important to have a team," Ovechkin wrote, as translated by the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan. "Only a team is capable of changing the course of a game, achieve the impossible. Lately, in the Western Press, I'm noticing a comparison to Putin's team. And you know, I really liked that comparison. Personally, I'm ready to be a member of that team. I never hid my relationship with our president, always openly supported him. I'm certain there are many of us that support Vladimir Putin. Let's unite and show everyone a strong and united Russia. Today, I want to announce a social movement in the name of Putin Team. Be a part of this team - to me it's a privilege, it's like the feeling of when you put on the jersey of the Russian team, knowing that the whole country is rooting for you."
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Личные награды и призы – все это здорово, но в хоккее, как и в любом деле, для победы важнее команда. Только команда способна переломить ход игры, сделать невозможное. В последнее время в западной прессе я встречаю сочетание Putin’s team, то есть команда Путина. И знаете, мне очень понравилось это определение. Лично я готов быть частью такой команды. Я никогда не скрывал своего отношения к нашему Президенту, всегда открыто его поддерживая. Я уверен, что нас, поддерживающих Владимира Путина, много! Так давайте объединимся и покажем всем сильную и сплоченную Россию! Сегодня я хочу объявить о том, что создаю общественное движение под названием Putin Team. Быть частью такой команды – для меня гордость, это похоже на ощущение, когда ты надеваешь майку сборной России, зная, что за тебя болеет вся страна. #putinteam
Russia's presidential election will be held on March 18, 2018, and while current president Putin has not announced his decision to run for re-election, it is widely expected he will seek a second consecutive term.
According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the president is unaware of the movement created by the six-time NHL All-Star.
Ovechkin has long had a strong relationship with president Putin. In 2012, the Capitals star told the Washington Post he "calls [Putin] often." In July, the president congratulated Ovechkin on his wedding, saying "Let there always be love and understanding in your family" before personally calling the couple. In January, however, Ovechkin told CNN he was "neutral" on affairs between Russia and the United States. "I have a good relationship with Russians and with Americans. So I'm neutral," he said.
Putin has presented himself as a sportsman, often suiting up for hockey games against former NHL players who allow him to skate around unimpeded and score goals by the fistful.
Ovechkin also takes great pride in representing his country on the international stage. He initially said he intended to defy the NHL’s decision to sit out this winter’s Olympics but later conceded that it was not feasible.