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NHL-MassMutual Life Insurance pulls Russian Ovechkin ad amid Ukraine aggression

Ice Hockey World Championships - Third Place Match - Russia vs Czech Republic
FILE PHOTO: Ice Hockey World Championships – Third Qualifier Match – Russia and Czech Republic – Ondrej Nepela Gymnasium, Bratislava, Slovakia – May 26, 2019 Alexander Ovechkin of Russia before the game. REUTERS / David W Cerny

March 2, 2022

By Rory Carroll

(Reuters) – A MassMutual commercial featuring Washington Capitals Russian captain Alexander Ovechkin has no longer aired, the US life insurer told Reuters on Tuesday.

The insurance company declined to say why the ad was no longer running.

The decision comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Russia says is a “special operation”.

The move comes after TSN reported that Canadian ice hockey equipment brand CCM Hockey would stop using Ovechkin and other Russian NHL players in global marketing initiatives.

“Although Mr Ovechkin is not responsible for the actions of the Russian government, we have decided not to use him (or any Russian player) on any of the global CCM media channels at this time. this,” CCM chief executive Marrouane Nabih told the Canadian sports network.

CCM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The National Hockey League (NHL) suspended relations with Russian business partners on Monday and condemned the invasion of Ukraine, days after Ovechkin, one of the top goalscorers of the tournament, calling for peace.

Ovechkin had previously voiced strong support for Russian President Putin and founded a public movement in 2017 called “Team Putin” before the former KGB agent successfully bid for a fourth presidential term.

Ovechkin, 36, is also a veteran member of the Russian national team.

The International Ice Hockey Federation this week suspended the Russian and Belarusian teams from its competitions until further notice and revoked Russia’s right to host the 2023 World Youth Championship.

(Additional reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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