Alex Ovechkin and his wife, Nastya Ovechkina, spent Christmas Eve at President Trump’s personal holiday dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.

The Washington Capitals captain shook hands with Trump and posed with the president and a white No. 8 Capitals sweater.

The Ovechkins spent time at the party with Oleg Kouznetsov, a luxury auto salesman in Boca Raton, Fla., and his girlfriend. The Christmas party was closed to White House pool reporters.

Trump commended Ovechkin, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs, in remarks during the Capitals’ celebratory White House visit in March after they won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup the previous spring.

“You were led to victory by a very special athlete, a great player, captain, team captain, Alex Ovechkin,” Trump said then. “Alexander the Great, they call him, has spent his entire 13-year NHL career with the Washington Capitals, and his hard work and his loyalty paid off last season. He outscored every player in the league. Wow, that’s not bad, right? With 64 goals — it’s like Babe Ruth — he had more than every player in the league. … 64 goals, 114 points, and was named the playoff MVP, and that was easy. Nobody did more to deserve the Conn Smythe Trophy and, Alex, congratulations.”

While some members of the team skipped the visit for political reasons, Ovechkin told Trump in the Oval Office that it was a “huge honor for us to be here and meet you personally.”

Ovechkin has mostly avoided talking politics during his time with the Capitals, but he is a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He founded an online political campaign for Putin, “Putin Team,” in 2017.

“Be a part of this team — to me it’s a privilege, it’s like the feeling of when you put on the jersey of the Russian team, knowing that the whole country is rooting for you,” he wrote on Instagram, accompanied by a photo of him and Putin embracing, when announcing the movement.

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Личные награды и призы – все это здорово, но в хоккее, как и в любом деле, для победы важнее команда. Только команда способна переломить ход игры, сделать невозможное. В последнее время в западной прессе я встречаю сочетание Putin’s team, то есть команда Путина. И знаете, мне очень понравилось это определение. Лично я готов быть частью такой команды. Я никогда не скрывал своего отношения к нашему Президенту, всегда открыто его поддерживая. Я уверен, что нас, поддерживающих Владимира Путина, много! Так давайте объединимся и покажем всем сильную и сплоченную Россию! Сегодня я хочу объявить о том, что создаю общественное движение под названием Putin Team. Быть частью такой команды – для меня гордость, это похоже на ощущение, когда ты надеваешь майку сборной России, зная, что за тебя болеет вся страна. #putinteam

A post shared by Alexander Ovechkin (@aleksandrovechkinofficial) on

He also posted a photo casting a ballot in Russia’s 2018 election, ostensibly for Putin because Ovechkin tagged the post “#PutinTeam.”

During Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki in July 2018, Trump presented Putin with an Ovechkin jersey and a hockey puck.

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