ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin was looking for a special way to commemorate the Washington Capitals' Russian Heritage Night game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Verizon Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, FS-O, NHL.TV).
During the pregame warmup he'll wear Russian-American themed skates that showcase his two homes. The artwork on the Bauer Vapor 1X skates includes the flags of United States and Russia as well as the U.S. Capitol in Washington and Moscow's St. Basil's Cathedral.
"I think they're sick, pretty cool," Ovechkin said Thursday. "It's something new that nobody has done before, so it's nice to be the first guy."
The skates were designed, with Ovechkin's input, by Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, the Buffalo-based shoe artists whose previous work includes custom cleats that were part of the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign in December.
"They did a great job," Ovechkin said. "They gave me some ideas and I said, 'Yes, I like that,' or, 'I don't like it.' So the guys did a great job."
Ovechkin will autograph the skates and they will be auctioned off, with all proceeds going to the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA), which was founded in 2005 to give those with physical and developmental disabilities the opportunity to play ice hockey. ASHA uses hockey to try to instill confidence and teach responsibility and socialization to its players.
He has served as an ASHA ambassador and hosted a skating event with the organization each of the past three seasons. At the first ASHA skate in 2014, Ovechkin met Washington Ice Dogs player Ann Schaab, who was 11 at the time. Schaab, who has Down syndrome, asked Ovechkin to go on a sushi date with her following a Capitals preseason game, and they became friends.
For his contributions to ASHA, which include donating a car following the 2015 NHL All-Star Game in Columbus, Ovechkin received the 2016 ASHA Inspiration Award.
The skate auction is open now on Handbid and will close at the end of the second intermission of the Capitals' home game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
Fans at Verizon Center on Thursday can visit the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation auction table on the main concourse at Section 104.
Anyone interested in bidding will need to download the Handbid app on their smart phones. Those in attendance without smart phones can bid on iPads supplied by the Capitals while the auction is open. Fans not attending the game may bid using the Handbid app or online.