Photo credit: Championat.ru
After getting the green light from the Capitals organization on breakdown day, Alex Ovechkin left the United States Friday for the 2011 IIHF World Championships in Slovakia. Ovechkin, who had to endure an eight hour flight from DC to Vienna, was then driven by IIHF representatives to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, just in time for a noon practice at Orange Stadium. He had almost no break.
Before departing from Kettler Capitals Iceplex Thursday, Ovi told Katie Carrera:
“I talked to President [Vladislav] Tretiak and they asked me if I go and I said, ‘Yes, I go,’” Ovechkin said on the day of the Capitals’ exit interviews. “I don’t want to go there, but I will. Because I want to play in playoffs, win Stanley Cup, but the situation is the situation and I’m going to play for my country and try to win gold.”
Ovechkin will immediately have the chance to avenge the Czechs in the quarterfinals Sunday at 4:15pm (10:15 AM eastern time), the same team that beat Russia in the championship game last year and ended their 27-game winning streak in the tournament. He will reportedly be the only Capital player on Team Russia’s roster this year and will play on a line with Maxim Afinogenov and Konstantin Gorovikov, a center for SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL.
Team Russia could certainly use his help. After a devastating loss to Germany in the opening game, Russia, despite its poor play, managed to win three straight games against Slovenia, Slovakia and Denmark. All three games were tense, one-goal affairs and the Russian press and its fans are waiting for a more serious opponent to see if the team can step up its game accordingly. Meanwhile, Russian coaches Slava Bykov and Igor Zakharkin are under fire for their coaching decisions (such as goalie choice) and statements in the press.
Below, check out a few more photos of Ovi arriving in Europe at the airport in Vienna, Austria, courtesy of Championat.ru.
Additional reporting by Fedor Fedin.