On Saturday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin participated in Ilya Kovalchuk’s charity hockey game, “From Pure Heart.” Also at the game was KHL president Alexander Medvedev.
A member of Sport-Express’s sports department caught up with Medvedev, asking a bunch of questions about the charity game and the KHL. At the end of their conversation, the interviewer asked a rote question about when Ovechkin and other Russian NHL stars might leave North America and come back home.
Medvedev’s answer was portentous.
Editor’s note: There is news and reporting in here, but it’s also an opinion piece. My opinions are my own. I won’t speak for anyone else at RMNB. I also encourage everyone to do their own research on this and not just take me- or anyone else– at face value. Frankly, I’d rather not write about this at all, but it seems inappropriate for a site named “Russian Machine Never Breaks” not to address this somehow.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin shared the above photo on Instagram this morning.
In the photo, Ovechkin, wearing a t-shirt that reads “No War,” holds up a sheet of paper pasted to posterboard, reading “#SAVE CHILDREN FROM FASCISM” [sic].
It sounds like an implicit message of support for the rebels of Ukrainian. Those rebels, allegedly funded and armed by the Kremlin, have been fighting against the Ukranian government in an ever-escalating war. As of this morning, there are reports that as many as a thousand Russian soldiers have now joined that war. That, it seems, is how Russia intends to save children from fascism.
In short, this is chauvinistic Russian propaganda.
The topic of Alex Ovechkin naturally came up at Tuesday’s press conference introducing new GM Brian MacLellan and new head coach Barry Trotz.
“I’m going to have a conversation with Ovi on his role with the group and how I would like to play,” Trotz said, before admitting he had some problems communicating with the Russian machine. “I haven’t really discussed that with him [though]. Actually, I talked to him when he was over in Russia and they won the World Championships, and he was at Mr. Putin’s house — I believe, or somewhere like that — so it wasn’t the proper time to really sit down and do that.”
If the Kremlin counts as “Putin’s house,” then yes Ovechkin was totally there yesterday.
Sometimes, words can say only so much. In the photos above and below, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian captain Alex Ovechkin celebrate together in the locker room after the Ruskies won the 2014 World Championship on Sunday.
They are total bros. Let’s just enjoy the moment.
[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.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Five Washington Capitals players participated in the Olympics and all of them had a miserable time. No one tore an MCL like John Tavares of the Islanders or got back surgery like Henrik Zetterberg of the Wings, but you can’t really say the Caps escaped Sochi unscathed. It was basically a ten-day pain parade that we’d all like to forget as soon as possible.
But not yet.
We need to understand it better first. We should map in our minds the unfettered misery of the Sochi Olympics. For reasons. To this end I have devised a two-dimensional matrix of sadness and badassness. Presenting the RMNB Putin-Weir matrix. (I’m really proud of this, so shut up.)
On one axis we have Sad Putin, the basic unit of human suffering. Based on the works of Viktor Frankl and Martin Buber, Sad Putin measures bad things like losing, losing real bad, getting eviscerated by the media, getting busted injecting black tar allergy medicine, and missing the birth of your child.
On the other axis we have Badass Weir, the basic unit of yolo. To rank on the Weir axis, one must outperform expectations, scoar a sick goal, buck the trends, and generally be a cool dude like Johnny Weir.
By combining these metrics, I hope to understand precisely how sucky the Sochi Olympics were. I don’t know why we’d want to do that, but we’re doing it.
RIA Novosti’s headquarters in downtown Moscow (Photo credit: RIA Novosti)
Two years ago, Russian news agency RIA Novosti (Russian Information Agency News) was awarded national host agency and photo pool rights for the Olympics in Sochi. On Monday, with less than two months before the opening ceremony, President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to dissolve the state-owned news agency.
According to the head of the presidential administration, Sergey Ivanov, multiple reasons led to the decision, including a planned decrease in funding for state-owned media and the need for increased efficiency in reporting.
Instead, a new agency, named Russia Today, shall be created. It’s unknown if the new agency will be related to the English-language TV channel of the same name. Their avowed goals are similar: provide news from Russia to a foreign audience.
Photo credit: kyivpost.com
A few summers ago, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin revealed to Pavel Lysenkov that he had Vladimir Putin’s phone number. Because sometime sports stars and world leaders just need to rap. “It’s not his cell phone number, but rather his home phone,” Ovechkin said, as translated by Igor Kleyner. “I call him often. But Putin is never at home. So far I haven’t managed to talk to him yet!”
That last part appears to have changed. During Adam Oates’ press conference with the media on Thursday, the Caps head coach revealed that Ovi had to take a pretty important call while they were hanging out together in Russia.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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