Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin took to the ice again at Kettler Iceplex on Tuesday. Fresh off a long flight Monday from Russia, where he spent the NHL lockout with his hometown club, Dynamo Moscow, Ovechkin was back on the ice with nine other teammates as the team prepares for training camp later this week.
It was a whirlwind few months for Ovechkin. He scored 19 goals and had 21 assists in just 31 games with Dynamo. He got to play in front of friends and family for a few months. On New Year’s Eve he proposed to his girlfriend, Russian tennis star Maria Kirilenko. By Jan. 2 she was in Australia preparing for this month’s Australian Open and Ovechkin was left home waiting for final word on the status of negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA. It didn’t look good at the time.
“To be honest with you, no. I thought that I’m gonna stay the end of the season and play in Russia,” Ovechkin said during a meeting with local media on Tuesday. “You can ask any guy in Russia what they think and they’re gonna say the same thing. It was hard time for us, for some of us, but it’s over. I don’t know why we do it.”
Ovechkin was in a lighthearted mood as he spoke. He donned a t-shirt that translated from Russian as “What, am I really the prettiest one here again? He cracked “not really” when asked if he’d missed the local reporters. Later asked about his engagement Ovechkin said tongue-in-cheek:
“I feel normal. She’s not with me right now she’s in Australia but it’s a good feeling, you know? It’s not that feeling anymore when you can do whatever you want. You have a girl with a tennis racquet and she can hit you.”
There was a report Tuesday from the Russian publication Sovetsky Sport that quoted a Dynamo team official as saying Ovechkin returned home to Washington early because he is nursing “a minor injury.” That wasn’t apparent at Tuesday’s informal workout. Ovechkin did leave the ice shortly before his teammates, but had gone through the entire skate without apparent incident.
“Excited to see him. Glad he’s in one piece,” Caps coach Adam Oates said a few hours before the Sovetsky Sports report. “Playing over there it’s different hockey. But glad he’s back and can’t wait for everybody to come in.”
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