Washington Capitals’ superstar Alex Ovechkin has made his intentions very clear over the last two years. He will play in the Olympics, regardless. And although Ovechkin has been direct in his intentions, and has the backing of his boss, his fellow NHL countrymen have been less than supporting (so far).
On April 3rd, the NHL officially ruled out NHL player-participation in the upcoming Olympics. And while the league’s decision is clear, the penalties associated with players who jump the fence and disregard the ban are not.
ALONE ON AN ISLAND
According to Russia’s Sport-Express, Ovechkin is not exactly receiving a ton of support from other Russian NHLers. Sport-Express culled recent quotes from several of Russia’s most prominent NHL Stars, and the backing for Ovechkin is not quite there (yet?).
“I don’t want to beat myself in the chest and scream that I’m going to the Olympics anyway. We will study what will be the situation closer to Pyeongchang.” (Sergei Bobrovsky, April)
“They will tell us what will be said. My opinion in this situation does not matter. Of course, I would like to go to the Olympics.” (Nikita Kucherov, April)
“I’m not ready to make statements like Ovechkin. And if I say, then who will join me? Who am I? If Crosby, Kane, Tarasenko voice their desire to go, then many will join them.” (Evgeny Kuznetsov, May)
“I’m not ready to make such a statement as Ovechkin.” I do not have that much strength. (Artemi Panarin, May)
“I do not want to throw loud statements. I will do my best to go to the Olympics, but if the contract comes up and threatens with lifelong disqualification, I’ll think and watch how the league does.” ( Evgeni Malkin, August)
Malkin would also add “I’m not Ovechkin, Putin does not call me”.
The general consensus as of mid-summer – “I’d really like to, but I’m not Ovechkin.
CHANGING HIS WAYS?
As previously noted, Ovechkin has never waivered on his intentions to attend the 2018 Olympics, but in his latest interview, one could sense the first signs Ovechkin may be hedging his bets.
“We’ll hope I’ll be allowed to participate,”, said Ovechkin. “Hopefully the NHL will allow me to speak (to players) on the Olympics. There is always a chance.”
HOW MANY GAMES ARE WE TALKING?
The 2018 Winter Olympics are set for February 9th through the 25th in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Considering travel, Ovechkin would likely miss around 11 games, or 13% of the season. The Capitals schedule for this coming February:
You can expect this story to ramp-up over the next few weeks, starting with training camp. It’s likely that one of the first questions Ovechkin will face in his first interview on his first day will center on the Olympics.
By Jon Sorensen