NHL star Ovechkin launches ‘Team Putin’ ahead of Russia’s presidential race

NHL star Ovechkin launches ‘Team Putin’ ahead of Russia’s presidential race
Russian NHL powerhouse Alex Ovechkin says he is forming a “Team Putin” movement, amid a presidential race swirling with young media celebrities. Putin himself, however, is yet to announce whether he is to run for another term.

The Washington Capitals captain broke the news on his Instagram page which boasts nearly 1 million subscribers. Ovechkin, who has been always open about his sympathy for the Russian leader, explained his decision to dive into politics by saying, “Personal awards and trophies are great, but in hockey, as well as in any other matter, the team is more important for the victory.”

“Me, personally, I would like to be a part of this team,” the star striker wrote, without elaborating on who he sees as prospective members of the movement and what precisely it plans to do besides backing the Russian president.

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

Публикация от Alexander Ovechkin (@aleksandrovechkinofficial)

Ovechkin is known to have voiced support for Putin. Last year, the hockey player posted a video of himself sporting a Putin T-shirt.

Ovechkin, 32, is considered to be one of the greatest-ever goalscorers in NHL history and has won numerous prestigious NHL individual awards during his more than decade-long career with the Capitals. These include being named Best Rookie in 2006, three Ted Lindsay Awards as most outstanding player of a season and six Maurice Richard Trophies as best scorer.

His announcement comes as the presidential race as about to kick off in Russia. Next month, the Russian Federal Council is set to formally announce a date for the presidential elections in March.

Putin is widely expected to run for what could become his fourth presidential term, but the man himself has so far kept silent about his intentions. A number of young challengers with high and sometimes controversial media profiles have moved in to fill the silence.

Former Russian It-girl turned opposition journalist Ksenia Sobchak, 35, shocked her multi-million fan base with her October announcement that she was running for the top job. Sobchak’s late father, Anatoly Sobchak, was St. Petersburg mayor and Putin's political mentor, while Ksenia is one of the most recognizable media figures in Russia. During her short career in politics, she has already faced a massive backlash for saying Crimea is part of Ukrainian territory “from the point of view of international law.” 

Sobchak’s announcement was closely followed by that of Yekaterina Gordon, a fellow socialite, journalist, singer-songwriter and rights activist. Launching her campaign, Gordon said that she would focus her bid around the issues of rights of women and children.

READ MORE: Girl power: More Russian women join presidential race

Women seem to be taking center stage in the upcoming presidential race. The latest announcement came from former adult film star Elena Berkova, who said her program would include “clothing censorship” and a ban on skirts “shorter than 40cm,” which she announced in an Instagram video while dressed in lingerie.