Alex Ovechkin shouldn’t expect to play at the PyeongChang Olympics, Russia hockey federation boss Vladislav Tretiak reportedly said Wednesday.
Tretiak was quoted after reports earlier this month quoting NHL and IIHF officials saying that the two bodies would work together to not allow NHL players on Olympic rosters.
However, IIHF president Rene Fasel said Tuesday, “For some individuals [NHL players] who said they will come we will have to see how we will do it,” according to Reuters. That potentially left the door open.
Tretiak seemed to close it.
“What is there for Ovechkin to do now? Nothing. Play for Washington,” the legendary Soviet goalie said in Russian in an R-Sport article, according to a Washington Post translation. “He has to accept that.”
Ovechkin was once adamant that he would play in PyeongChang despite the NHL’s non-participation. But last month he slightly changed his stance.
“We’ll hope I’ll be allowed to participate,” he said in Russian, according to Sport-Express via a Washington Post translation. “There’s always a chance.”
Ovechkin could address this issue again once Washington Capitals preseason camp starts Friday.
The NHL announced in April that it would not send players to the Olympics for the first time since 1994. That’s when Ovechkin was very firm in saying he would defy the league.
“I said already, I’m going and it doesn’t matter what,” Ovechkin said on April 4.
A key man in this situation is Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who has not been quoted in mainstream media on the Ovechkin issue since April.
Leonsis supported Ovechkin last year but backed off a bit in April, according to a Sports Business Daily story after the NHL announcement.
“What the league now does with the IOC, I will wait to see what happens,” Leonsis said, according to the report.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has repeated that the league expects all NHL players to stay with their clubs during the Olympics. The league has not announced what sanctions, if any, players (or their clubs) would face for going to the Olympics.
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