WASHINGTON, February 21. /ITAR-TASS/. NHL’s Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee said forward Alexander Ovechkin would remain in Russia’s Sochi for an indefinite period of time to be near his father Mikhail, who underwent a heart surgery last week, US media reported on Friday.
The Washington Post daily cited McPhee as saying that on Sunday, when Ovechkin and his Russian national team played against Slovakia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Mikhail, 62, had “heart issues” and they required immediate surgery.
Ovechkin learnt the sad news only three days after, when the Russian team was eliminated from the Olympics following 1-3 defeat to Finland in the quarterfinals.
“I’m sure his parents didn’t want him distracted, but family means everything,” McPhee was quoted as saying to reporters. “So that’s where he stays until he’s ready to come back.”
McPhee said Ovechkin’s father was in stable condition after the surgery and Alexander can stay with him as long as he wants.
“We’ve told him to stay as long as necessary,” McPhee said and added that considering Ovechkin father’s surgery and Russia’s unsuccessful performance at the Winter Games on home ice, it would be a difficult period for the Russian ice hockey star.
“It’s certainly going to be the most difficult time in his life,” he said. “The Olympics meant a great deal to him, and his father’s sick, so it’s not going to be easy for him. But when he comes back, we expect he’ll give us everything he’s got as he always has.”
Ovechkin faced enormous pressure before the Winter Games as he was viewed by many Russians as one of the leaders to take the national team to gold medals at home Olympics. He scored only one goal in the last four games at the Sochi Olympics competition.
All NHL players from the Russian squad returned to their clubs on Thursday, except for Ovechkin, who stayed in Sochi with his father, and Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk, who both stayed in the resort city to take part in the Olympics closing ceremony this Sunday.