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MassMutual pulls Alex Ovechkin commercial amid Russia-Ukraine conflict

Washington Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin, shown Oct. 16, 2019, has been a strong supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin throughout his career. File Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI
Washington Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin, shown Oct. 16, 2019, has been a strong supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin throughout his career. File Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo

March 1 (UPI) -- Washington Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin's popular MassMutual commercial has been taken off the air as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it was announced 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. The commercial debuted in October -- when the NHL regular season started -- and was frequently shown during U.S. broadcasts.

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A spokesperson for MassMutual, a life insurance company, told ESPN that "the ad is no longer on the air," and clarified that its partnership with Ovechkin was limited to that lone commercial. The ad is still available on MassMutual's YouTube account.

Ovechkin has been a strong supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin throughout his NHL career. In 2017, Ovechkin campaigned on behalf of Putin by orchestrating a social media movement called Putin Team, writing, "I never made a secret of my attitude toward our president, always openly supporting him."

The 36-year-old Ovechkin's Instagram profile picture features him posing with Putin.

MassMutual's decision to pull the advertisement comes after CCM Hockey, a prominent ice hockey equipment company, said that it will stop using Ovechkin and other Russian players in global marketing initiatives.

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"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.

Ovechkin spoke publicly for the first time last week regarding Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying the invasion was a "hard situation" for him.

"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.

Ovechkin, widely considered one of the greatest goal scorers in league history, is a 12-time All-Star selection and won the Stanley Cup in 2018.

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