The Edmonton Oilers have made it clear : on Wednesday night as they host the Washington Capitals, they want to encourage fans to wear the colours of Ukraine to show their support following the unprovoked invasion by Russia. Per Terry Jones of the Sun, they are looking to make the most significant statement, with Alex Ovechkin as a main witness.
“We are preparing to encourage fans to wear blue and yellow in support,” Oilers executive vice president, OEG communications and gaming, Tim Shipton revealed.
“We will also launch a special online auction where we will auction off the sticks and helmets with them. And we’ll also hand out Ukrainian flag stickers to our fans courtesy of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress,” he added.
This is what Jones expects tonight at Rogers Place:
“There were no lack of fans that attended the game with Ukraine flags and wearing Ukraine hockey jerseys but the expectation is that this will be the occasion to make the most significant statement.”
Ovechkin is not the enemy here, but some fans thought he could use his power as a Russian superstar to speak against the war. However, this is a man who has publicly endorsed Vladimir Putin and is said to even consider himself a close friend of president and allegedly has his personal phone number. His current Instagram account features a photo of himself standing beside Putin.
Since his statement on the invasion weeks ago, fans expected more from Ovechkin, who’s already felt the effect of the massive backlash to the Russian invasion. However, let’s not forget that his parents, wife and kids and other family members living in Russia. This is just sad to see all around.
Now what remains to be seen is if the Oilers’ fanbase will keep it classy in making its statements with Ovechkin and the Capitals in town. On Tuesday night, the Caps were in Calgary and Flames fans booed Ovechkin every time he touched the puck. He still managed to tie Jaromir Jagr for third on NHL’s career goals list with 766 by scoring two goals in the Capitals' 5-4 win.