I do wonder exactly how much autonomy Ovechkin has, and how carefully he has to measure his words and decisions. On the one hand he’s very famous and very popular so maybe he could get away with speaking his mind on politics. On the other hand there are people he cares for in Russia, and Putin is known for blackmail, extortion, and assassination. It would not surprise me if he was pressured to start Putinteam, or if he was under considerable pressure to continue supporting Putin. I don’t know that for a fact, I’m just saying that whenever athletes from an authoritarian country praise their leader I wonder how much of it is genuine.