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Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin‘s popular commercial with MassMutual has been pulled after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a company spokesperson confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.
The advertisement featured Ovechkin and Capitals teammate Nicklas Backstrom sitting on a coach eating cereal, explaining why they’re an effective duo to Ovechkin’s wife, Anastasia Shubskaya. It debuted in October, when the NHL regular season began, and was seen frequently during NHL broadcasts in the U.S.
MassMutual said “the ad is no longer on the air,” and clarified that its relationship with Ovechkin was limited to that one commercial. The ad is still available on the MassMutual YouTube account.
Ovechkin, 36, has been an ardent supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin throughout his career. In 2017, he campaigned on behalf of Putin by starting a social media movement called Putin Team, writing, “I never made a secret of my attitude toward our president, always openly supporting him.” His Instagram profile photo features him posing with Putin.
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The MassMutual news comes as CCM Hockey, a longtime equipment company, told TSN’s Rick Westhead that it will stop using Ovechkin and other Russian players in global marketing initiatives for the time being.
“Although Mr. Ovechkin is not responsible for the Russian government’s actions, we took the decision to not use him (or any Russian player) on any global CCM communication at this point,” CCM said in a statement to TSN.
Ovechkin addressed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the first time last week, telling local media that the invasion was a “hard situation” for him and offered a plea for peace.
“Please, no more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — we have to live in peace,” he said.
TSN first reported the commercial’s removal.
Source: ESPN NHL