Alex Ovechkin avoids media after Russia invades Ukraine, faces Putin critic Artemi Panarin

alex ovechkin
Oct 13, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) waves to the crowd during player introductions prior to the Capitals' game against the New York Rangers at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals superstar captain Alex Ovechkin reportedly was not made available to the media on Thursday morning, hours after his native Russia sent troops into the Ukraine.

Ovechkin is a longtime supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He expressed his support of Putin during an Instagram post in 2017, and his Instagram account features a picture of himself and the Russian president as his profile picture.

Alex Ovechkin is expected to address media as Russia invades Ukraine

Per the Washington Post, the Capitals did not make Ovechkin available to offer his thoughts on the world events on Thursday ahead of their game against the New York Rangers.

“Expecting Alex Ovechkin to be available to media in the coming days. He was requested this AM, but Caps want to keep the focus on tonight’s game vs NYR,” beat writer Samantha Pell wrote.

“Ovechkin wants further time before speaking on Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“Ovechkin’s wife, kids, mom + dad are in Russia.”

Artemi Panarin open Putin critic

artemi panarin
Feb 14, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) takes a shot on goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Against the Rangers, Ovechkin will face fellow Russian Artemi Panarin, who has has been vocal about his dislike for Putin in the past.

“I think he no longer understands what’s right and what’s wrong. Psychologically, it’s not easy for him soberly judge the situation…I am not saying this because I see any kind of profit for myself in this. I want the people to live better, for teachers and doctors to have better salaries. I don’t want some ballerinas (Panarin is referring to the ultra-patriotic former dancer Anastasia Volochkova) to say, ‘If you don’t like it here, you can leave!’ This is raving madness! Everyone has left already, all the brains are gone. This shouldn’t be happening.”

Panarin via Sportsnet

Ovechkin was critical of Panarin’s comments then saying:

“I don’t know. Maybe nothing has changed since the 90s where he lives. My life has changed. A lot has changed in sports in the country.”

The world’s events aren’t just affecting the NHL.

Next week’s tennis tournament in Moscow will not take place as scheduled “due to concerns over player safety and uncertainty related to international travel following the recent escalation of events between Russia and Ukraine,” the ATP Challenger Tour wrote on Twitter.

Also, Michael Stockton — the son of basketball Hall of Fame member John Stockton — left his team of Budivelnyk Kyiv in Ukraine’s SuperLeague last week to return home to Spokane, Wash., agent Mike Main told USA Today.

Per basketball.realgm.com, there are approximately 60 American men on Ukrainian rosters.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report.