Blue Jackets fans boo Alex Ovechkin in video celebrating Rick Nash jersey retirement
Alex Ovechkin sold the most NHL jerseys in 2021 as fan respect for the superstar reached unprecedented levels. Ovechkin felt like a historic figure – one of the greatest players of all time – as he embarked on a legitimate pursuit of Wayne Gretzky’s goalscoring record. Now, with Russia invading Ukraine, Ovechkin’s popularity in the league appears to be declining due to his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
One of the most telling examples of how things changed came on Saturday when the Columbus Blue Jackets retired Rick Nash’s No. 61 in an emotional ceremony at Nationwide Arena. Ovechkin contributed a video congratulating Nash. The two rivals fought for the Richard Trophy several times during their careers and also played on All-Star teams together.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 6, 2022
“Hi, Rick. Congratulations on your retirement. Huge honor. Number 61 will stay in Columbus forever,” Ovechkin said.
From Mark Scheig of The Hockey Writer, Ovechkin was booed by the Blue Jackets crowd. The video aired on the jumbotron during a commercial break.
Marc-André Fleury with words for Rick Nash tonight. Also Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin booed. #CBJ
— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) March 6, 2022
Another Blue Jackets fan on Twitter described Ovechkin as “downright booed“.
Back home in DC, Ovechkin didn’t seem to get much feedback from Capitals fans — although some flags and signs were brought into the stands for warm-ups at Capital One Arena. No boos were picked up on the telecasts and Ovechkin was cheered loudly by the crowd – even though his name was chanted by Capitals fans after scoring in back-to-back games last week.
But Ovechkin’s reception on the team’s next Canadian road trip could be chilling. Cities that generally adored him — like Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver — could boo him.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski wondered if Ovechkin would be booed every time he touched the puck and linked to a story from 2003 where Montreal Canadiens fans booed the US national anthem in a game against the Islanders due to a US-led war in Iraq.
I wondered if all of this led to Alex Ovechkin getting booed every time he touches the puck on the road where the Capitals will be next week. And I came across this, which I had forgotten: https://t.co/G6szHubtdY
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) March 1, 2022
Washington’s next game is Tuesday against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome. We’ll see then.
Main photo: Elizabeth Kong/MRNB