It was interpreted as support for Ukrainian rebels fighting in Ukraine. On Monday, now back in the United States for the start of NHL training camp, Ovechkin explained the photo.
"I don't try to make a statement," Ovechkin told ESPN.com. "Right now, as a Russian, I have lots of friends from Ukraine. I just don't want a war. Nobody wants a war. Especially when people are so close. It's hard to see especially when you live so close to Ukraine. It's hard and it's dangerous. People die."
Ovechkin said the situation in Ukraine was a focal point of his summer in Russia.
"We watch the news all the time," Ovechkin said. "It's hard. I have lots of friends up there. The people who live there, they don't want war. They just want to have a good life like all of us."
Pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces have been fighting in eastern Ukraine since April. The conflict, called a humanitarian crisis, has cost lives along with destroying homes and infrastructure in Ukraine.