Ovechkin and Alexei Yashin share a laugh before the game. (Photo: R-Sport)
On Saturday, Alex Ovechkin traveled 45 miles from his Moscow home to participate in the fifth iteration of Ilya Kovalchuk’s charity hockey game held in neighboring Chekhov, home of KHL Vityaz. The proceeds of the game, which translates to “From Pure Heart,” raised $16 million rubles (or slightly under $500k dollars) for various orphanages.
[Editor's note: We're not writing about this topic to invite a debate on Barack Obama's presidency or the politics of Crimea. This article is about hockey. Kind of. It's also about Miley Cyrus.]
In March, Vladimir Putin sent troops into the Crimea. His stated motive was to protect the mostly Russian population there from unrest. A few days later, the Crimean parliament declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation. Putin then claimed Crimea as part of Russia on moral and material grounds, citing the principle of self-determination and Crimea’s strategic importance for Russia or some ish like that.
Lots of world leaders were pretty pissed about this, judging by the non-binding UN resolution (100 of 193 in favor) that declared Crimea’s Moscow-backed referendum invalid a few days later. Then the United States decided to show just how pissed they were by sanctioning Vladimir Putin and all his boyz.
Those of us who watch the news every night and consider ourselves informed knew all of this already. What we didn’t know is who exactly got sanctioned, why they got sanctioned, and why those sanctions matter to us. Thanks to Jennifer M. Smith (whom we had the pleasure of meeting at RMNB Party 6) and her co-workers at the Stewart & Stewart law firm, we have learned that some of the people sanctioned are deeply involved in the Russian hockey league, the KHL. Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, president of Alex Ovechkin’s former KHL team Dynamo Moscow, has been sanctioned by the United States for being Putin’s former judo partner and a member of his inner circle.
Alex Ovechkin skating with Dynamo in 2010. (Photo credit: Sport-Express)
Over the weekend, it was widely reported that Alex Ovechkin‘s former Russian Super League team, Dynamo Moscow, would try to sign the Capitals captain if the NHL enters into a lockout on September 15th. According to rsport.ru, Dynamo general manager Andrei Safronov said to the press, “[Leafs' forward Leo] Komarov (who played on the team last year) will come. We will talk with Ovechkin. It will be up to the head coach.” And headlines across Russia and North America followed.
Well apparently, not everyone in Dynamo’s front office are as open to Ovechkin returning — even for a potential asking price of $3 million (plus insurance). In an extended meeting with the press on Sunday, president Arkady Rotenberg distanced himself from Safronov’s earlier comments.