Alex Ovechkin remains defiant in wake of NHL’s Olympics decision
Alex Ovechkin not surprisingly is choosing to remain defiant despite the NHL’s announcement this week players won’t be allowed to represent their home countries at the Olympics in South Korea next year. In fact, the Washington Capitals superstar went so far as to accuse the NHL of bluffing.
Ovechkin has long maintained intentions to represent Russia in 2018 regardless of the what the NHL ultimately decided. On Tuesday, he doubled-down on that stance.
“Yeah, I didn’t change my mind and I won’t,” Ovechkin told a sizable media contingent after the Capts’ morning skate, via ESPN.
When asked why, Ovechkin, as patriotic as them come — both for his native Russia and his adopted U.S. — made his reasoning quite clear.
“Because it’s my country,” Ovechkin added. “I think everybody wants to play there. It’s the biggest opportunity in your life to play in the Olympic Games. So, I don’t know, somebody [is] going to tell me ‘don’t go,’ I don’t care, I just go.”
Despite Monday’s developments, Ovechkin believes something could still be worked out.
“Yeah, I hope so,” he said. “Again, right now, it’s still time to make a decision; you can say whatever, but next year’s schedule is not out yet. So if the schedule is not going to the Olympic Games, then you can see they don’t bluff. But again, still long time, still everything can change. But in my mind, like I said already, I’m going. It doesn’t matter what.”
The NHL’s decision has been panned as fans, pundits and players alike don’t seem to support it. Perhaps in light of the criticism, the NHL reportedly has plans in place to prevent owners from circumventing the league, per a tweet from TSN’s Rick Westhead.
Sources: NHLPA’s Don Fehr told agent meeting in Vancouver he expects NHL to stop owners from allowing individual players to go to Olympics.
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) April 4, 2017
For what it’s worth, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis stated he intends to allow his players to compete in South Korea next year. So Ovechkin at least has that going for him at this point.