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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

A post shared by Alexander Ovechkin (@aleksandrovechkinofficial) on

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.

Orpik (wrist) progressing ahead of schedule

When Brooks Orpik underwent wrist surgery in July, the expectation was that he’d be ready in time for the Caps’ regular season opener on Oct. 10; however, it seems as though the defenseman is ahead of schedule.

Speaking to Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post, Barry Trotz said the veteran blue liner should be available during the club’s seven game preseason schedule.

“He’ll be fine,” Trotz said. “I expect him to play in some exhibition games and be ready to go.”

The 34-year-old had 19 assists and averaged 21:48 of ice time in 78 games with Washington last season.

Related: Caps’ Backstrom (hip) to miss preseason

Capitals invite Roy to camp on PTO

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The Washington Capitals have invited center Derek Roy to training camp on a professional tryout.

Roy split the 2014-15 season with the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers scoring 12 goals and 32 points in 72 games.

With Nicklas Backstrom expected to miss the preseason recovering from hip surgery, Roy could temporarily fill the void. However, it’s hard to see the 32-year-old earning a contract in Washington.

In addition to Backstrom, the Caps have Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jay Beagle, Michael Latta, Liam O’Brien and newcomer Zach Sill down the middle.

On top of the depth at center, Washington has less than $500,000 in salary cap space remaining, according to Generalfanager.com.

If Roy earns a contract with the Capitals, Washington would be his seventh club in five seasons.

Related: Report: Skille to join Avs’ camp on PTO

Caps’ Backstrom (hip) to miss preseason

After undergoing hip surgery in May, Capitals’ forward Nicklas Backstrom is expected to miss all seven of Washington’s preseason games.

“Backie is still the same,” coach Barry Trotz told The Washington Post. “He’s skating and if he keeps going, he’ll keep progressing and get cleared at some point to come to the main group. Once he comes to the main group, I think he’s a few weeks away. That won’t be for a little while. I don’t expect him to be playing in any of the exhibition games. I really don’t.”

At the time his surgery was announced, the Capitals were confident the 27-year-old would be ready for the start of the regular season.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was expected to start the season as the Caps’ second line center, could start the season playing on the club’s top line, if Backstrom isn’t ready for Washington’s regular season opener on Oct. 10.

“I’m going to be back to 100 percent before I start playing,” Backstrom said earlier this month. “I’m not going to play on 90 percent. We’ll see how it goes. We don’t know yet.”

Backstrom scored 18 goals and 78 points in 82 games last season.

Dmitry Orlov (wrist) ready after missing 2014-15

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Dmitry Orlov didn’t play at all with the Washington Capitals in 2014-15 due to a wrist injury, but now he’s finally in a position to resume his career.

“I feel good,” he told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I’m ready to go. My wrist is fine right now. I can shoot, I can do everything. I feel good, I feel fine and I’m ready to play. I can’t wait for the season to start.”

The 24-year-old defenseman has been practicing at Kettler Capitals Iceplex while he waits for the start of training camp. Orlov has also spent a good amount of the summer working with teammate John Carlson.

“(Orlov’s) skating great, he handles the puck just as great as he ever used to and his shot is definitely there again,” Carlson said.

Orlov, who did record three assists during a three-game AHL conditioning stint towards the end of 2014-15, is hoping to help fill the void left by Mike Green. Although he’s unlikely to match Green’s offensive contributions, Orlov might prove to be a mainstay on Washington’s third defensive pairing.