It’s not the first time Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin has communicated with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Instagram and it probably won’t be the last. This might be one of the most heartfelt missives, however.
“Happy birthday!!!! You’re on the right track and we respect your actions and will support you in everything always because we also love our country!!! Health to you and your love ones!”
Fans of the WWE might mistake Ovechkin’s Instagram birthday card to Putin as something faux-Russian heel Lana and her Russian-loving Bulgarian client Rusev might do to propel their story line. But nope. Folks, this is real life.
But it shouldn’t come as a surprise. As noted, Ovechkin has reached out to Putin on social media many times in the past.
In March, Ovechkin posted this picture of Putin without comment:
It’s a regram of Russia’s RIA Novosti news service’s Instagram that’s captioned “Historical event: Crimea and Sevastopal became part of Russia.”
And if one wasn’t already convinced that Ovechkin really, really likes Putin and his policies, take a look at a photo Ovi uploaded to Instagram last month that shows him holding a sign that reads #SaveChildrenFromFascism, a hashtag that hockey blog Russian Machine Never Breaks notes has been used by pro-Russian groups in Ukraine to drum up support.
The Russian caption: “Наши Дедушки и Бабушки видели все ужасы фашизма!Мы не допустим его в наше время!!#savechildrenfromfascism”
The English translation: “Our grandfathers and grandmothers saw the horrors of fascism! We will not allow it in our generation!!”
Ovechkin, who is wearing a shirt that says “No War” by the way, later denied he was trying to make a political statement. He told ESPN:
“I don’t try to make a statement. Right now, as a Russian, I have lots of friends from Ukraine. I just don’t want a war. Nobody wants a war. Especially when people are so close. It’s hard to see especially when you live so close to Ukraine. It’s hard and it’s dangerous. People die. … We watch the news all the time. It’s hard. I have lots of friends up there. The people who live there, they don’t want war. They just want to have a good life like all of us.”
He did not explain what any of that has to do with fascism, however.
Perhaps Ovechkin should stick to selfies without words in the future. He’s pretty good at that. Here he is at National League Division Series Game 2, which Ovechkin captioned with just four snowflake emoji, ❄️❄️❄️❄️.