Monday, 21 July 2014

Another Russian Split

You won't see this face at Washington Capitals games anymore. That's Maria Kirilenko, the former fiancée of Washington Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin and star tennis player, sitting in the crowd. You probably caught the word "former" in the previous sentence. While Russia tries to recapture or whatever it's trying to do with Ukraine, the Ovechkin-Kirilenko engagement is now off and the two athletes have parted ways. There reportedly were some incidents over the last few months that pushed these two apart, and it came to an end with Kirilenko announcing that she had called off the engagement and the two are no longer together.

Kirilenko gave a statement to R-Sport who tweeted the information out, and was retweeted by Kirilenko herself. Translated from Russian, the statement reads,
"I have made a decision to break up our engagement. There are a lot of reasons, but I wouldn't want to go in detail. I'll say just that our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha as a person and an athlete and sincerely wish him athletic success in the future.

"I'm currently concentrating on preparing for my tennis tournaments and I hope that soon I'll be able to please my fans with news about my success as an athlete and not just in my personal life."
I'll admit that I'm not for reporting on a player's personal life because it's that player's life outside of the microscope of sports. I'm not comfortable talking about a player's foibles when it comes to his personal relationships or behavior unless it becomes a black mark on the city and its fans that he or she is representing. This news about Alexander Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko is sad as they were often seen together in pictures and at events, but it seems that Miss Kirilenko and Mr. Ovechkin started drifting apart based on Miss Kirilenko's comments.

I'm not going to assume anything because that's irresponsible of me. Miss Kirilenko has decided to keep the reasons she feels this relationship ended under wraps, and I respect that privacy. No one wants to see laundry aired when it comes to a failed relationship. Things can be said that can offend the other party, and that will only lead to increased hostility. Miss Kirilenko has done an admirable job at respecting the privacy of both herself and Alexander Ovechkin, and she deserves some credit for showing tact in light of a difficult time.

As for Alexander Ovechkin, last season was a bad one statistically and professionally when it comes to expectations. He scored a pile of goals, but he certainly didn't help his cause on the defensive side of the puck. While I'm loathe to suggest that his relationship was a distraction, he should have but one focus this season at this point: helping the Washington Capitals get back to the playoffs and beyond.

While players deserve to have personal lives as well, the expectations that are carried by Alexander Ovechkin are huge. We saw how poorly Mike Ribeiro played and acted in Glendale last season, and it was revealed during the press conference in Nashville that he was having personal family problems that led to some of that erratic behavior. I'm not sure if this is the case for Mr. Ovechkin's poor defensive play last year, but there is one certainty for this upcoming season: he won't be able to use that as an excuse if he doesn't improve his defensive game.

I wish nothing but the best of luck for Miss Kirilenko on the pro tennis circuit, and I expect a big year out of Alexander Ovechkin. While his personal relationship didn't end up in a good place, his relationship with the fans in Washington can be repaired by a deep playoff run.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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