Updates from Thursday, May 22
Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington reports that Ovechkin is cleared to play in Thurday's game against France:
Ovechkin returned to practice with Russia on Wednesday and indicated he would play on Thursday, adding that the injury was not his knee.
While many Caps fans may be breathing a sigh of relief that Ovechkin’s injury only kept him out of one game, others may feel he is putting himself at risk by playing four days after being helped off the ice.
NHL.com reported that he was in the lineup for the Russian squad:
Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin returned to Russia's lineup for its quarterfinal game Thursday against France at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus.
Slava Malamud of Sport-Express.ru passed along Ovechkin's update on his condition after speaking to the media:
Ovechkin said he was in contact with #Caps medical staff. "Can't tell you what their advice was, though." Says there is no pain now.— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 22, 2014
Updates from Wednesday, May 21
Igor Eronko of Sports.Ru confirms Alex Ovechkin has returned to practice:
Updates from Monday, May 19
Slava Malamud and Andy Potts of IIHFWorlds2014.com provides a statement from Russia general manager Andrei Safronov discussing Alex Ovechkin's injury status with reporters:
Sasha [Ovechkin] will definitely stay with the team. Even if he couldn't play he'd still be here. He's not just a part of this team, he's a leader.
He's OK at the moment. There's some pain, but he's working with the doctors.
Knowing Sasha if there's even a five percent chance he can play, he'll want to be out there.
Malamud previously provided additional details surrounding Ovechkin's injury:
The RUS Hockey Federation announces Ovechkin "sustained a serious lower body injury" and may be done for the tourney. Emphasis on "may"— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 19, 2014
Russia GM: Ovechkin is sore, they are considering making a special knee brace. He'll stay in Minsk even if he doesn't play.— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 19, 2014
Vladislav Tretiak has confirmed that Ovi didn't suffer a tear. "Diagnosis didn't reveal a serious ligament damage. The worst is avoided"— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 19, 2014
Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press previously provided a synopsis of Russia discussing Ovechkin's availability for the team's upcoming game:
Russia says Ovechkin will miss final preliminary-round game Tuesday vs. Belarus but doesn't rule out his returning this tournament.— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) May 19, 2014
The NHL Talk Twitter feed added more details about the ligament damage:
Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin has no ligament damage from World Championship injury http://t.co/Pcujna9UjV— The NHL Talk (@The_NHL_Talk) May 20, 2014
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin suffered a knee injury Sunday while competing for Russia in the men's ice hockey world championships.
Slava Malamud of Sport-Express.ru reported the news, describing what befell Ovechkin:
Ovechkin is taken off the ice. Can't support his own weight. Looks like a knee and it looks terrible. #Caps— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 18, 2014
Ovechkin was taken out by an open-ice hip check that hit him on the left knee. Couldn't get up. Taken off supported by two people. #Caps— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 18, 2014
Correction, right knee made contact with the opposing player. Whether this was what hurt him, we don't know yet. Will try to find out more.— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 18, 2014
Alex Ovechkin has been taken off in an ambulance. Evaluation still pending, but according to inside info, "it's pretty bad". #Caps— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 18, 2014
Video also emerged of the hit that sidelined Ovechkin:
Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press analyzed what the loss of Ovechkin would mean moving forward:
Would be devastating to Russia (and potentially the #Caps if it is indeed a right knee injury for Alex Ovechkin. Will know more postgame.— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) May 18, 2014
Malamud added that the injury could have been even worse:
Alex Ovechkin is back in the team hotel. Walking on his own, no crutches, but limping. Team doctor says it's "better than expected" #Caps— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 18, 2014
Ovechkin underwent MRI in a local hospital. I was there when an ambulance brought him back. He said "It's so very serious", but with a smile— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 18, 2014
The Capitals star took to Instagram to show his fans he was feeling better:
Ovechkin is not only a critical figure in Russian hockey, but he's also a massive star in the NHL for Washington. Any long-term absence would be devastating for the sport as a whole. With nine seasons as a Capital under his belt, he has yet to come close to winning the Stanley Cup, and Washington missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007 this past season.
"It’s part of my job. I’m captain of the team and of course I have to take responsibility,” said Ovechkin after the season, per The Washington Post's Katie Carrera. "I have to take criticism."
The hope is that the talented 28-year-old scoring dynamo can be healthy enough to respond to any of his detractors. Based on the news emerging from Sunday, Ovechkin's immediate future appears ominous. Until more is known about his circumstances, it's difficult to project just how severe this unfortunate situation is.
If this injury is as serious as it seems, there may not be a chance for Ovechkin to build on his fifth 50-goal campaign and push the Capitals to championship glory. The numbers Ovechkin has put up have been exceptional, but until Washington wins something of more substance, he will continue to face scrutiny.