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Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin left the team on Tuesday while “attending to a family matter and the health of a loved one,” the team announced.
“I won’t be seeing him again any time soon,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said.
If Ovechkin is out for the rest of the week, he would miss Tuesday’s home game against Carolina, Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers and Saturday’s outdoor game against the Hurricanes in Raleigh, NC
Washington Capitals senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today that Captain Alex Ovechkin will be staying away from the team to attend to a family matter and the health of a loved one.
– CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 14, 2023
The Capitals didn’t release any further details on Ovechkin’s departure and Laviolette didn’t say when the 37-year-old could return. It was unclear whether Ovechkin stayed in the United States or had returned to Russia.
Ovechkin, who surpassed Gordie Howe for second on the NHL’s all-time scoring list earlier this season, addressed the team Tuesday morning before departing from his Arlington training facility.
“Listen, it’s hard sometimes. Life is hard,” Laviolette said. “When it comes to your family and your parents, that matters. He’s going to take care of some things right now and we’re going to support him.”
With Ovechkin out, the Capitals brought back center Joe Snively from their American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, Pennsylvania before Tuesday’s game. As a result of Ovechkin’s absence, Laviolette shuffled his lines on Tuesday morning’s skating and tinkered with his power play, giving reps to center Evgeny Kuznetsov in Ovechkin’s place.
Ovechkin’s loss compounds the absence of other key players in Washington’s lineup, including defenseman John Carlson, who is out after a puck hit in December. Forward Tom Wilson and center Nic Dowd are both still sidelined with lower body injuries. Wilson was skating Tuesday morning but is unlikely to play the Hurricanes; Dowd remains on injured reserve.
Forward Anthony Mantha, who missed Sunday’s 4-1 loss to San Jose through illness, also returned to the lineup on Tuesday.
“It’s different when you really lose a player to injury as opposed to a family matter, and particularly the great man who has created a lot of success not only for the organization but for individuals in the room, which I’m definitely one of . In moments like that you play a little bit harder,” said veteran TJ Oshie of Ovechkin’s loss. “We are thinking of him and we miss him and we certainly wish him the best.”