The Washington Capitals have been taking a lot of heat over the last several days over the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine, and at the center of that criticism has been Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin is a Russian born player and has very close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin and although that has been the main focus of the criticism it has also been more than that. Ovechkin didn't do himself or his team any favors when he failed to condemn Putin when commenting on the ongoing crisis, and since then some of the actions taken by the Capitals regarding Ukrainian symbols, and comments made by the wives of some of Ovechkin's teammates, have only added more fuel onto the fire.
Knowing this I fully expected that there would be a contingent of fans at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. on hand to express their displeasure this evening with the Capitals facing off against the National Hockey League's newest expansion franchise, the Seattle Kraken, and that was exactly the case.
Although reporters based in Washington have been relatively quiet on the issue, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times was on hand for tonight's game and he was able to capture a picture of just some of the fans that were there to protest against the conflict in Ukraine, and more specifically against Alex Ovechkin himself. The signs and the flags made no attempt at subtlety, even going so far as to display a prominent photograph of Ovechkin alongside the Russian president.
It would appear that, after facing considerable backlash this week after fans with a Ukrainian flag were barred from entering Capital One Arena, the arena's security has been instructed to relax that policy moving forward. According to Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press, the fan with the sign featuring a shot of Ovechkin and Putin together was spotted behind the benches at the game itself, suggesting that he was allowed in the building despite the fact that he is clearly being critical of the organization's franchise player.
The outrage this week has no doubt contributed to the decisions made by these fans to show up and express their displeasure this evening, and now it seems the Capitals will have to wait and hope that things die down a little before a return to normal.