Capitals star Alex Ovechkin revealed that his father, Mikhail, died at the age of 71.

“Today my father passed away,” Ovechkin posted on his Instagram account in Russian. “I thank everyone for their support but ask that you be understanding and not disturb my family at such a hard time for us! Thank you.”

Mikhail, a former professional soccer player, had long dealt with illness that prevented him from traveling to Washington D.C., where he had previously been a fixture at Capitals games. According to Russian outlet Sport-Express, the elder Ovechkin was hospitalized on Jan. 10 with an aortic dissection, which led doctors to discover a malignant tumor.

Alex OVechkin announced his father Mikhail’s passing on Wednesday.

The high-scoring winger took a leave of absence from the team Tuesday to return home to Moscow for what the Capitals called a “family health matter.” He is expected to be gone for the foreseeable future.

“Mr. Ovechkin was a true gentleman and was such a significant and consistent presence at Capitals games and practices,” the team said in a statement. “With a constant smile on his face, he loved interacting with our fans and expressing his gratitude for their support of his son, of whom he was incredibly proud.”

“Life is tough,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. “When it comes to your family and parents, that’s what matters. He’s going to deal with some things right now, and we’re going to be supportive.”

Alex Ovechkin hoists the Stanley Cup with his father, Mikhail.
Alex Ovechkin and his father Mikhail Ovechkin, outside the Caps team room, after a game.


Alexander Ovechkin hugs his father Mikhail and shows off his IIHF World Championship gold medal.
Mikhail Ovechkin is recognized by hockey fans as he tours the Montreal Canadiens museum.
The Washington Post via Getty Im


The Russian Hockey Federation offered it condolences to Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the family.

“One of the most important things in the life of every man is raising children,” RHF president Vladislav Tretiak said in a statement. “And he did it brilliantly. The whole world knows the athlete and hockey player Alexander Ovechkin. The fact that Sasha managed to build such a great career, a very big merit belongs to his parents – Mikhail Viktorovich and Tatyana Nikolaevna. It was they who laid in their son a love for sports, diligence, the desire to win, the right attitudes in life. It was they who brought up in Alexander the character of a purposeful champion. I am truly grateful to both of them.”