Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin practiced this morning at KCI and will travel to Russia this afternoon to attend his uncle’s funeral.
Ovechkin did not speak to reporters, but his agent said in an email that his father’s brother passed away. The agent said the family has asked that no further details be released.
“I talked to him yesterday when he first called me and he was really shooken up,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Ovechkin. “I’m really proud of him just to come out here and work as hard as he did today.”
Boudreau said Ovechkin wanted to leave yesterday but was unable to catch a flight on such short notice. Despite a heavy heart — as you know, the Ovechkins are a very tight-knit family — he chose to practice this morning.
“He came [to training camp] in great shape,” Bodureau said. “He doesn’t want to lose it in four days.
“You didn’t see him do a lot of smiling out there,” the coach added.
Boudreau confirmed that Ovechkin is expected to return Friday and play in Saturday night’s opener against Carolina.
“That’s a lot of strain,” Boudreau said of the cross-Atlantic flight.
“He’s that kind of guy. And we promote it. It’s family first. When something is wrong, you’ve got to take care of your family. [GM George McPhee] and I have said, ‘As long as it takes. You come back when you’re ready.’ We think he’s going to be back on Friday.”