Vladimir Putin

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Kremlin hails Alex Ovechkin for starting pro-Putin group

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MOSCOW (AP) — Alex Ovechkin‘s new “social movement” to support President Vladimir Putin received Kremlin backing Friday.

The Washington Capitals captain said Thursday on Instagram he was starting a group called Putin Team to “show everyone a strong and united Russia.” Ovechkin added that he has never hidden his feelings about Putin and has “always supported him openly.”

The Russian presidential election is scheduled for March 18. Putin hasn’t confirmed he will run for a fourth term, but is widely expected to do so.

“We obviously welcome in general Sasha’s desire to express support for our president, especially from abroad,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, referring to Ovechkin.

Peskov added that Ovechkin is “a very famous Russian, a very successful Russian, and we really know that he values our president highly.”

Ovechkin, speaking after the Capitals’ game against the New York Islanders on Thursday, said he didn’t mean his post as a political gesture, but as a sign of Russian patriotism.

He hasn’t said what exactly the movement will do or how it will be organized.

Putin is a hockey fan who takes to the ice for annual televised exhibitions games using the branding of the NHL – though in that case it stands for “Night Hockey League.” Putin plays alongside former star players and government officials, and regularly scores several goals, though his opponents seem reluctant to challenge him for the puck.

Alex Ovechkin creates ‘Putin Team’ movement supporting Russian president

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has not announced whether he’ll seek re-election in March, but he has one high-profiled superstar athlete on his side.

On Thursday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin posted on Instagram that he’s creating a movement, the Putin Team, to support the country’s leader.

Личные награды и призы – все это здорово, но в хоккее, как и в любом деле, для победы важнее команда. Только команда способна переломить ход игры, сделать невозможное. В последнее время в западной прессе я встречаю сочетание Putin’s team, то есть команда Путина. И знаете, мне очень понравилось это определение. Лично я готов быть частью такой команды. Я никогда не скрывал своего отношения к нашему Президенту, всегда открыто его поддерживая. Я уверен, что нас, поддерживающих Владимира Путина, много! Так давайте объединимся и покажем всем сильную и сплоченную Россию! Сегодня я хочу объявить о том, что создаю общественное движение под названием Putin Team. Быть частью такой команды – для меня гордость, это похоже на ощущение, когда ты надеваешь майку сборной России, зная, что за тебя болеет вся страна. #putinteam

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Here’s the translation via Washington Post Capitals beat writer Isabelle Khurshudyan:

“Personal achievements and medals – all of this great, but in hockey, like with everything, to win it’s important to have a team. Only a team is capable of changing the course of a game, achieve the impossible. Lately, in the Western Press, I’m noticing a comparison to Putin’s team. And you know, I really liked that comparison. Personally, I’m ready to be a member of that team. I never hid my relationship with our president, always openly supported him.

“I’m certain that there are many of us that support Vladimir Putin. Let’s unite and show everyone a strong and united Russia. Today, I want to announce a social movement in the name of Putin Team. Be a part of this team – to me it’s a privilege, it’s like the feeling of when you put on the jersey of the Russian team, knowing that the whole country is rooting for you.”

Ovechkin has had a good relationship with Putin for a long time now, so despite all that is currently going on in the world the Capitals star won’t be relenting his support for the Russian leader.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS that Putin was unaware of the endorsement.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Putin forgives referees, thought Russia would beat U.S. ‘by a big margin’

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In case you didn’t know, Russian president Vladimir Putin is a big time hockey fan. He’s also all-in on seeing his country come away with the gold medal and beating anyone and everyone along the way to do it.

That’s what made the United States’ 3-2 shootout win against Russia all the more difficult to handle for Putin. From the disallowed goal in the third period to seeing T.J. Oshie score on four out of six shootout attempts to seal the victory, he’d have a lot to gripe about if he wanted to.

But he won’t do that as RSport out of Russia shares.

“Even referees sometimes makes mistakes, here I wouldn’t tar anybody with any brush, but I thought that we would win by a big margin,” Putin said. “You and I shouldn’t forget that sport isn’t only about skill but also about the athletes’ courage, and even a good slice of luck.”

 The only thing better than a good slice of luck is a good slice of pie.

It’s likely a relief for referee Brad Meier that Putin said he wouldn’t “tar anybody” because of a bad call. Meier was the official who caught Jonathan Quick’s net being off the moorings thus disallowing what would’ve been Fedor Tyutin’s go-ahead goal.

Of course, as Puck Daddy shares, Russian fans aren’t as forgiving to Meier as their president is.

Watch Russian President Vladimir Putin play hockey after winning election

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Being a head of state comes with many perks. For newly re-elected Russian President Vladimir Putin that means getting to play a good old game of hockey as a way to celebrate being approved by the people once again.

Check out the video of Putin in action in this story from MSNBC.com’s Dara Brown. Here’s to hoping the officials called things nicely in favor of Putin’s team, you never want to upset the President of any country, never mind Russia.

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No, Harper and Putin won’t be playing hockey against each other

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have no plans to face off against each other in a pair of hockey games to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series.

That according to the Prime Minister’s Office, which today was forced to refute a report in the Toronto Star that the two leaders would be hitting the ice in September. (Presumably with the winner becoming the undisputed ruler of the North Pole.)

To be fair, the rumor wasn’t the most ridiculous ever.

Putin isn’t an experienced hockey player; however, he did skate with CSKA Moscow in November.

Harper knows all about hockey – he’s even written a book on the game’s history that’s due out later this year. Granted, he only played a few years as a kid and quit when he was 13.