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Ovechkin To Nhl: I'm Playing In 2014 Olympics


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NEW YORK -- More than four years removed from the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014, the battle lines have already been drawn by one of the NHL's biggest stars regarding NHL participation.

Two-time Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin told ESPN.com during an interview here Wednesday that he will risk suspension and play for his country regardless of whether the NHL is formally involved or not.

"Nobody can say to me you can't play for your country in the Olympic Games," Ovechkin said.

The NHL has no commitment to take part in the Olympics after the 2010 Vancouver Games in February.

The Vancouver Games will mark the fourth time NHL players will participate in the Olympic tournament. The experiment has received mixed reviews, especially from owners, many of whom do not want to see the league shut down for two to three weeks for games that will likely not be televised in prime time (as was the case four years ago during the 2006 Torino Games).

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has repeatedly said he wants to sit down with the players' union after the Vancouver Games to go over the pros and cons of continued participation. The NHLPA is on record as being staunchly in support of continued participation.

"It's consistent with what we've been hearing from the players, which is that they're very passionate about international hockey, particularly the Olympics," said NHLPA interim executive director Ian Penny told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "And it's just a testament to how strongly they feel about it.

"We've heard the players' voice on that issue and we're going to continue to press ahead, make sure we do participate. So it's really just consistent with what we've been hearing all along."

Ovechkin's pledge to defy his own contract and go AWOL if the NHL decides not to take part in future Olympics ups the ante considerably on both sides of the debate.

"I don't care," Ovechkin defiantly stated. "I'll go play in the Olympic Games for my country. If somebody says to me you can't play, see ya."

Even if it meant the Washington Capitals would suspend him?

"I don't care," he said.

Although it appears the Caps would be within their right to suspend Ovechkin, the issue is a thorny one given Ovechkin's profile as one of the game's brightest lights and the face of the Washington franchise.

It's possible, for instance, the Caps could give Ovechkin special dispensation to attend the Olympics, although that raises issues of competitive balance. It's possible the NHL could implement a policy that would prevent its teams from freeing up players for that reason.

There is also the real possibility that if Ovechkin follows through on his word to play for Russia, others would follow suit. After the All-Star Game in Montreal this past January, one Russian reporter wrote that Ovechkin, defending NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Thrashers star winger Ilya Kovalchuk had all pledged to play in the Sochi Games regardless of whether the NHL is formally attending or not.

If that is the case, there would be significant pressure on other Russian players to follow suit and it's not inconceivable other hockey nations would want their top players to make similar decisions.

Ovechkin said it was likely other Russians would have a similar mindset toward playing on their home soil in 2014.

"Who can say you can't play for your country in the Olympic Games? I think it's ..."

Unfair?

"It's not unfair, it's stupid," he said. "Somebody don't like it, see you next year."

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?

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The real issue is Russians grew up wanting to win a gold medal mostly not the Stanley Cup, international competetion, the world juniors, u18's, world championships, canada cup, summit series and the olympics were what they always trained for.

I can't wait to see how this pans out, this is a real issue that both sides are violenty against and IIHF and the Olympic commitee are going to have to jump into. Imagine hockey in the summer olympics possibly.

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Ok MP,could you please remind why it is,in the first place that the NHL does not want to participate after Vancouver is over?

I recall in the past hearing talks about this,but forget much of the details,thanks.

1. Players get injured.

2. 2 weeks are taken out of a scheulde, this creating mass havok on a team. Case and point, the Habs have to play 17 games in December, thats literally more than a game every 2 days all month.

My proposal is the NHL cutting their scheudle back most likely to 79 games during an Olympic year or more if they see fit and the players and or Olympic commitee giving some money back for the loss in revenue. The details are obviously best left to experts but thats the principle idea.

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My proposal is the NHL cutting their scheudle back most likely to 79 games during an Olympic year or more if they see fit.

Would not be a bad idea,would think that it would probably be a little more than 79,as you say.

I can see were a passionate player as Ovie is towards the game,as well as playing for his country is coming from.

Sure hope things get iron out for him....I can see him doing what he's stating.

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This makes me love Ovie even more. Basically he told the NHL where to go and I don't blame him. I think having pros play in the Olympics is a double edged sword. It promotes the NHL players which is a good thing but it risks injuries to its biggest stars.

It's unfortunate that the games are held in the middle of the season but that's when they've always been held. A solution would be to keep the season running and suspend the waiver system so that players could be called up to replace those who want to participate then sent back down once the games are over. I like the idea of shortening the season and spacing the games out more after the players return.

It used to be that pro's couldn't play in the Olympic games but the NBA players changed all that. I for one look forward to the winter games now more than I did when it was amateur players only.

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If he wants to play, let him play for the love of God! He wants to represent his country, telling someone that they can't represent their country in the Olympics is like a slap in the face. I hope Ovie really pushes this and allows the NHL to take part in the Olympics.

Does anyone really think the NHL or the Capitals will suspend Ovechkin if he did go in 2014 and the rest of the NHL isn't taking part?

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The real issue is Russians grew up wanting to win a gold medal mostly not the Stanley Cup, international competetion, the world juniors, u18's, world championships, canada cup, summit series and the olympics were what they always trained for.

I'm not sure if that's the real issue, Ovechkin was around 5 when the Soviet Union fell and players were already coming to the NHL before that. I mean it's possible, things don't change overnight, but I think most Canadian players are very supporting of playing in the olympics as well.

I can't wait to see how this pans out, this is a real issue that both sides are violenty against and IIHF and the Olympic commitee are going to have to jump into. Imagine hockey in the summer olympics possibly.

I'm a bit confused, what two sides are violently against it? The NHL is against the olympics, the players are generally for it.

And the IIFH and Olympic committee have nothing to do with it, not sure why they'd get involved

As for the summer olympics, will never happen. First of all, I don't see why the Olympics would bend over backwards for a single league in only two countries. Secondly, some countries hosting summer olympics probably don't even have hockey rinks let alone hockey interest. They'd have to build rinks for a single sport.

What will happen is we will see a return of the Canada/World Cup on a regular basis (probably every 4 years) in place of the Olympics, and this will be at the end of summer. The NHL likes this tournament since it happens on their terms, I assume they profit from it, and it doesn't interrupt the season. That's the way it always used to be anyways. As for what would happen in the Olympics, we'd see the best players which were part of leagues that did allow them to take part. Most likely this would be European leagues, Team Canada would probably look something like our Spengler Cup team. I don't believe it will ever revert to amateurs (we could send amateurs, but I'm sure there would be better pros available outside of the NHL who were allowed to play).

If he wants to play, let him play for the love of God! He wants to represent his country, telling someone that they can't represent their country in the Olympics is like a slap in the face.

When you're paying someone millions of dollars, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect them to show up to work.

Does anyone really think the NHL or the Capitals will suspend Ovechkin if he did go in 2014 and the rest of the NHL isn't taking part?

Financially it makes sense to suspend him: why pay him when he's not playing? He'd likely miss 5-10 games, I wouldn't pay him when he skips out.

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I'm not sure if that's the real issue, Ovechkin was around 5 when the Soviet Union fell and players were already coming to the NHL before that. I mean it's possible, things don't change overnight, but I think most Canadian players are very supporting of playing in the olympics as well.

I didn't mean that Canadians didn't grow up wanting to win a gold medal, but in Russia international play is everything and in Canada most athletes would prefer to lift the Cup over getting a medal, but thats not to say they don't want the gold.

I'm a bit confused, what two sides are violently against it? The NHL is against the olympics, the players are generally for it.

And the IIFH and Olympic committee have nothing to do with it, not sure why they'd get involved

My mistake I misworded it, I meant both sides are violenty on their side of the argument.

Well the IIHF is involved with everything international hockey, so I assume they would want to get somewhat involved, I'm not 100% on this though. As for the Olympics, pro hockey players draw big TV ratings and popularity boost, I'm sure they're going to try and work something out with the NHL.

As for the summer olympics, will never happen. First of all, I don't see why the Olympics would bend over backwards for a single league in only two countries. Secondly, some countries hosting summer olympics probably don't even have hockey rinks let alone hockey interest. They'd have to build rinks for a single sport.

That was more of a joke than a realistic suggestion :P

What will happen is we will see a return of the Canada/World Cup on a regular basis (probably every 4 years) in place of the Olympics, and this will be at the end of summer. The NHL likes this tournament since it happens on their terms, I assume they profit from it, and it doesn't interrupt the season. That's the way it always used to be anyways. As for what would happen in the Olympics, we'd see the best players which were part of leagues that did allow them to take part. Most likely this would be European leagues, Team Canada would probably look something like our Spengler Cup team. I don't believe it will ever revert to amateurs (we could send amateurs, but I'm sure there would be better pros available outside of the NHL who were allowed to play).

Thats still going to be a hard sell to the players. Especially with some of the leagues icon players, Ovechkin Malkin and Kovalchuck leading the front on the pro-Olympic side.

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I didn't mean that Canadians didn't grow up wanting to win a gold medal, but in Russia international play is everything and in Canada most athletes would prefer to lift the Cup over getting a medal, but thats not to say they don't want the gold.

Well I certainly agree that is the way it used to be (I think it probably started to change with Larinov and Mogilny though), and also agree that Canadian athletes care more about the cup. However, I'd also guess Ovechkin would take a cup over a gold medal.

My mistake I misworded it, I meant both sides are violenty on their side of the argument.

Well the IIHF is involved with everything international hockey, so I assume they would want to get somewhat involved, I'm not 100% on this though. As for the Olympics, pro hockey players draw big TV ratings and popularity boost, I'm sure they're going to try and work something out with the NHL.

I'm sure the Olympics and IIHF will want the NHL, for the reasons you mentioned. But they really have no say, all they can do is ask nicely. While I'm sure there will be some phone calls, not sure I'd consider this "getting involved" to a great extent since they have no power.

That was more of a joke than a realistic suggestion :P

Emoticons are your friend :lol:

Thats still going to be a hard sell to the players. Especially with some of the leagues icon players, Ovechkin Malkin and Kovalchuck leading the front on the pro-Olympic side.

Maybe, but also remember it's only been about 10 years since NHL players could even play in the olympics: this is only going to be the fourth time ever. Players like Larinov, Mogilny, Kovalev, and all the other Russians who joined the NHL prior to 98 came thinking they wouldn't be able to participate in the Olympics. Also, I assume between 91 (fall of Soviet Union) and 98 (Nagano) all the prior Soviet "amateurs" (which of course were their best players) they were no longer considered amateur. I'm not sure about this however.

It will be a tough sell to the players, and I have a feeling that we may see 2014 participation in exchage for players giving up NMCs or something (the NHL may find it a nice bargaining chip). However, it also won't be some crazy idea: for most of history NHL players never played in the olympics. Only difference now is the players are actually allowed to be there while pro.

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This makes me love Ovie even more. Basically he told the NHL where to go and I don't blame him. I think having pros play in the Olympics is a double edged sword. It promotes the NHL players which is a good thing but it risks injuries to its biggest stars.

It's unfortunate that the games are held in the middle of the season but that's when they've always been held. A solution would be to keep the season running and suspend the waiver system so that players could be called up to replace those who want to participate then sent back down once the games are over. I like the idea of shortening the season and spacing the games out more after the players return.

It used to be that pro's couldn't play in the Olympic games but the NBA players changed all that. I for one look forward to the winter games now more than I did when it was amateur players only.

You don't think that it may be political. Namely that the old eastern european communist russian rival "KHL" is competing for nhl players. This is nhl's response . Don't touch our players. Anyway, I think players should be able to do what they want. So let them . If Canadian, American, Swedish, Finnish players want to play in the olympics, let them play. And they will play . The prestige is a lot greater then playing in the nhl. And then afterwords they can come back and complete their stint in the nhl. The nhl has to understand that they are secondary to the Olympics.

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I think a big issue with player participation in the 2014 Olympics has to do with the fact that Sochi is 8 to 9 hours ahead of Eastern Time. 11 or 12 hours ahead of the Vancouver schedule. Not great for North American viewing. North America is where most people that watch NHL hockey live. Another major problem is going to be jet lag and travel time.

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I admire Ovechkin's gumption. I hope the NHL players do continue to play in the Olympics. It is the only international hockey tournament I have any interest in watching nowadays. It is, after all, the biggest international hockey tournament, too! Now, let's see someone from Canada stand up and say, "I am going to Russia to play in the 2014 Olympics," as well.

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I'm sure the Olympics and IIHF will want the NHL, for the reasons you mentioned. But they really have no say, all they can do is ask nicely. While I'm sure there will be some phone calls, not sure I'd consider this "getting involved" to a great extent since they have no power.

It will be a tough sell to the players, and I have a feeling that we may see 2014 participation in exchage for players giving up NMCs or something (the NHL may find it a nice bargaining chip). However, it also won't be some crazy idea: for most of history NHL players never played in the olympics. Only difference now is the players are actually allowed to be there while pro.

What I'm thinking may happen is the NHL could reduce its schedule during an Olynpic year, but the players and the Olympics may have to compensate for the loss of revenue if they choose to, thats always an alternative solution.

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What I'm thinking may happen is the NHL could reduce its schedule during an Olynpic year, but the players and the Olympics may have to compensate for the loss of revenue if they choose to, thats always an alternative solution.

Any league is obviously loathe to reduce their schedule, especially when it's 3 seasons of 82 games then 1 of 79 or whatever you suggested (I can't even think of any non labor related precedent off the top of my head). There are several potential nightmares. What if a player or team comes within inches of an important record and falls short, possibly cause of the shortened season? Like you said there's the obvious loss of revenue, which I understand you have to weigh against growing the game but it's obviously a factor.

I'm not a fan of the Olympic experiment, I understand the value of it but stopping mid season for 2 weeks is ridiculous IMO.

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I admire Ovechkin's gumption. I hope the NHL players do continue to play in the Olympics. It is the only international hockey tournament I have any interest in watching nowadays. It is, after all, the biggest international hockey tournament, too! Now, let's see someone from Canada stand up and say, "I am going to Russia to play in the 2014 Olympics," as well.

That would be weird if someone from Canada said they were going to play for the Russian team. I can see Vinny L in Moscow going 'Hmmm... What was I thinking?' :lol:

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Any league is obviously loathe to reduce their schedule, especially when it's 3 seasons of 82 games then 1 of 79 or whatever you suggested (I can't even think of any non labor related precedent off the top of my head). There are several potential nightmares. What if a player or team comes within inches of an important record and falls short, possibly cause of the shortened season? Like you said there's the obvious loss of revenue, which I understand you have to weigh against growing the game but it's obviously a factor.

I'm not a fan of the Olympic experiment, I understand the value of it but stopping mid season for 2 weeks is ridiculous IMO.

In a way I kind of wish it was still amateurs. I get that most good hockey players are pro at some level. However, the problem I have with pros (high level pros like NHL players in particular) is it kind of tarnishes the purpose of the gold medal. NHL players care about the cup most of all. When you see real Olympians these are guys who train for 4 years, attend the World Championships every year, work so hard for little money all just to win a gold medal. To NHL players it's a little bonus, a second thought. It just doesn't have the same meaning.

I admire Ovechkin's gumption. I hope the NHL players do continue to play in the Olympics. It is the only international hockey tournament I have any interest in watching nowadays. It is, after all, the biggest international hockey tournament, too! Now, let's see someone from Canada stand up and say, "I am going to Russia to play in the 2014 Olympics," as well.

The World Cup is just as good, sure there isn't the "gold medal" (which as my last post states, I think is kind of stupid to be giving to NHL players anyways). But the level of hockey and competition is just as good. And the NHL will be all for this tournament .

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Any league is obviously loathe to reduce their schedule, especially when it's 3 seasons of 82 games then 1 of 79 or whatever you suggested (I can't even think of any non labor related precedent off the top of my head). There are several potential nightmares. What if a player or team comes within inches of an important record and falls short, possibly cause of the shortened season? Like you said there's the obvious loss of revenue, which I understand you have to weigh against growing the game but it's obviously a factor.

I'm not a fan of the Olympic experiment, I understand the value of it but stopping mid season for 2 weeks is ridiculous IMO.

You know as much as I do that records are insignificant because of the change of eras. I understand the mainstream outcry though. I'm not saying it would be a popular decision, I'm just suggesting it as an option. The loss of revenue as I said would be provided by uleterior sources.

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If he wants to play, let him play for the love of God! He wants to represent his country, telling someone that they can't represent their country in the Olympics is like a slap in the face. I hope Ovie really pushes this and allows the NHL to take part in the Olympics.

Does anyone really think the NHL or the Capitals will suspend Ovechkin if he did go in 2014 and the rest of the NHL isn't taking part?

Go Ovieeeeeeeeeeeeee

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In Nagano, the preliminary rounds started Feb. 7 and the gold medal game was on the 21. This is two weeks of actual competition and does not include travel time or practices etc. Note: The NHL did not release players for the preliminary round only for the final round. In Torino in 2006, players were released for the preliminary round which began on Feb. 15 and the gold medal game was on Feb. 26 -- 11 days of actual competition.

So a two week window is optimistic considering travel and jet lag.

As well there is the World Cup of Hockey, the World Cup used to be the Canada Cup. The Canada Cup was conceived by the NHLPA and the NHL as a tournament for all the best players in the world. At the time, professionals weren't allowed to participate in the Olympics and the IIHF world championship has always conflicted with the Stanley Cup playoffs. The World Cup of hockey is scheduled in September.

I think the NHLPA view is one or the other. The NHL probably prefers the World Cup as they organize it and there is no break in the regular season.

For me, the Olympics should be as it was originally envisioned the best of amateur athletics. The Canada Cup was for professionals.

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In Nagano, the preliminary rounds started Feb. 7 and the gold medal game was on the 21. This is two weeks of actual competition and does not include travel time or practices etc. Note: The NHL did not release players for the preliminary round only for the final round. In Torino in 2006, players were released for the preliminary round which began on Feb. 15 and the gold medal game was on Feb. 26 -- 11 days of actual competition.

So a two week window is optimistic considering travel and jet lag.

As well there is the World Cup of Hockey, the World Cup used to be the Canada Cup. The Canada Cup was conceived by the NHLPA and the NHL as a tournament for all the best players in the world. At the time, professionals weren't allowed to participate in the Olympics and the IIHF world championship has always conflicted with the Stanley Cup playoffs. The World Cup of hockey is scheduled in September.

I think the NHLPA view is one or the other. The NHL probably prefers the World Cup as they organize it and there is no break in the regular season.

For me, the Olympics should be as it was originally envisioned the best of amateur athletics. The Canada Cup was for professionals.

+1

The NBA players participating in the summer games changed all this. While its fun to watch the best pros perform at an elite level such as the Olympics its unfair to other countries not fortunate to have pros play for their country. That being said if a pro wants to play for his country I don't see anything wrong with that.

As usual the NHL is making the wrong decision and looks like the villain. What is the NHL going to do, suspend the league's best player? The capitals won't do anything Ovie is their bread and butter. I hope other players rally around Ovie and support him he has alot of guts to tell the NHL where to go.

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+1

The NBA players participating in the summer games changed all this. While its fun to watch the best pros perform at an elite level such as the Olympics its unfair to other countries not fortunate to have pros play for their country. That being said if a pro wants to play for his country I don't see anything wrong with that.

Not that it was fair when the Soviets could send their best players and we couldn't because of the form of government they had.

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