Alexander Ovechkin has always toed the line when it comes to following the NHL’s dress code out on the ice. His yellow skate laces and tinted visor may rub some hockey purists the wrong way, but now he’s going to give those critics a whole new reason to complain as he’s taking things a step further for Russian Heritage Night prior to the Washington Capitals’ game on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

To celebrate the night’s festivities, Ovechkin will wear custom-painted Russian-American themed skates during the warmup. Though adding some personality to footwear has been a fairly common event in other leagues and sports, Ovechkin’s art appears to be a first for the NHL.

Here’s a full description of what’s painted on the skates courtesy of ESPN’s Uni Watch:

The left skate features Moscow’s famous Saint Basil’s Cathedral on one side and a stylized Russian flag on the other, while the right skate shows the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., and an American flag.

The skates will be auctioned off with all proceeds benefiting the American Special Hockey Association, a group who assist those with physical and developmental disabilities who want to play hockey.

Will this trend catch on in the NHL? If you’ve followed the NFL, you’re familiar with the craze of custom cleats and painted footwear. Despite handing out numerous fines, the NFL finally gave in a little and allowed players to wear their custom cleats during one week of the season. The NHL isn’t as strict as the NFL and routinely allows teams to wear unique jerseys on the ice before games. Custom skates might stretch that idea a bit further as they are tied more to a specific player than a team, but so far the NHL hasn’t stomped out Ovechkin’s idea.

Custom-painted skates may never make their way into actual NHL games, but it’s worth noting that these skates aren’t too different from the custom-painted masks worn by all of the league’s goaltenders. Why are they the only ones allowed to show off their personality on their equipment?

[Uni Watch]

About David Rogers

Editor for The Comeback and Contributing Editor for Awful Announcing. Lover of hockey, soccer and all things pop culture.