Photo: Kuzmin Yuri
On August 15, before a pre-season exhibition game between Avangard Omsk and Moscow Dynamo of the Kontinental Hockey League, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, fresh off a trip to China, participated in a ceremonial puck drop before the game at the Balashikha Arena.
Ovechkin was on hand for the opening of a new branch of the Avangard Hockey Academy that would operate from the Balashikha Arena. Avangard Omsk Hockey Team is normally based in Omsk, Russia, but due to their home arena not being safe to use, the club has temporarily relocated to Moscow, nearly three time zones away.
With a presence now in Moscow, the club made the decision to establish a branch of their hockey academy in one of Russia’s most well-known cities. The academy is designed to nurture and develop the talents of those who are 17-years of age or younger.
Ovechkin commented about the opening of the Avangard Academy in his native city of Moscow following the game:
“God grant that everything will turn out. Opening a branch of the Avangard school is a large-scale project. All talented hockey players should study all over Russia. The more academies [such as Avangard], the better for the development of hockey in our country. What are the future plans for the development of hockey? There’s a lot, but I won’t talk about everyone. On Saturday, I’ll come there and hand out souvenirs and gifts. Perhaps next year the tournament will be larger.”
Ovechkin could also not escape questions about his future plans in hockey, which he answered, “Let’s see what’s coming. In 2021 my contract in Washington expires and I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m looking at a range of options. Everything will depend on my health. I follow the KHL closely online and I think the league is developing the right way. And I always keep in touch with Dynamo Moscow.”
He was also asked questions on the Olympics, as China (from which he returned from a trip as an NHL ambassador) is the site of the 2022 Winter Olympics. His translated interview with Sports Express is below:
Ovechkin: It was very interesting in China how the country is preparing for the Olympic Games.”
Is there a chance that the NHL will participate in the Olympics?
The NHL invited me to China, so there are chances. Wait and see.
A [Collective Bargaining Agreement] lockout could happen in the NHL. Are you planning to return to Russia during a lockout?
It is clear that in the case of a lockout, a lot of players will come back here. As for me, wait and see. When the time comes, I will make a decision. I have two more years of my contract, and a year before the lockout. We’ll see.
In general, what does the union say about participating in the Olympics?
Unfortunately, there have been no discussions. The first discussion will be during training camp. After that there will be some information.
By Diane Doyle
Sports Express Article on Ovi and Academy Opening
All Russia Hockey Article on Ovi and Opening of Avangard Academy
KHL News August 15
Teller Report — International News Story on Academy
Reuters Story on Original Relocation of Avangard from Omsk