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As NHL stars react to Olympics, who will follow Alex Ovechkin’s lead?

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NHL stars expressed disappointment, of course, after the NHL announced it would not participate in the PyeongChang Olympics, but an important question remains largely unanswered.

Who will follow Alex Ovechkin‘s lead and declare they intend to defy the NHL and play in the Olympics anyway?

Capitals teammate and U.S. Olympic star T.J. Oshie would not answer that question Tuesday.

“When it comes down to it, I’ll make a decision about that, but as of right now, I’m staying positive, hoping we can figure something out,” Oshie said, according to ESPN.com.

Sidney Crosby won’t say, either. Nor will Connor McDavid.

Star Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators declined to answer the question Monday, according to Postmedia News in Canada, but still criticized the NHL.

“Crap, pretty much,” Karlsson said of the NHL decision, according to the report. “I don’t understand the decision. It’s very unfortunate for the game of hockey around the world that they’re going to do this to the sport. I think it’s going to hurt a lot if we don’t end up going.

“Whoever made that decision obviously has no idea what they’re doing.”

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos is also taking a wait-and-see approach. Stamkos memorably missed the Sochi Olympics due to a fractured right tibia.

“Yeah, you can certainly have that attitude [of going to the Olympics anyway], but we don’t know exactly what the rules and regulations will be regarding that topic,” he said, according to ESPN.com. “Until you know that, you can make an informed decision at that time. Personally, there’s some time here to maybe let things settle down a little bit and reflect. Hopefully, something can change their mind.”

Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews both said they would not leave the NHL club midseason to play in the Olympics, according to Chicago media.

Likewise, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said he will not push for a Canadian Olympic team spot if the NHL’s decision is final.

“I wouldn’t be able to go away from my team here,” Holtby said. “I couldn’t do it. That’s just personal. Everyone’s priorities are kind of different.”

Another star Russian forward, Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues, reportedly said he would think about the situation in the summer.

The Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price, the No. 1 goalie for Canada’s gold-medal team in Sochi, wasn’t convinced the NHL’s decision was final.

“I think there’s maybe a little bit of tactics involved,” he said. “We’ll see. The Olympics aren’t here yet.”

Henrik Lundqvist, who backstopped Sweden to gold at the 2006 Torino Olympics, was one of the first stars to comment, doing so via Twitter:

“Disappointing news, NHL won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted,” he said. “But most of all, disappointing for all the players that can’t be part of the most special adventure in sports.”

The most tenured active Swede, four-time Olympian Henrik Zetterberg, said the NHL “probably wants something from” the NHL players, “as always,” likely referring to a bargaining chip.

Auston Matthews, who was in line to become the youngest U.S. Olympics men’s hockey player since 1992, dismissed a question about the NHL decision but said he would have wanted to go to PyeongChang.

Buffalo Sabres leading scorer Jack Eichel echoed the disappointment sentiment.

“Obviously, as a league, we’re trying to grow our game all over the world,” he said. “I think the Olympics is a good way to do it. … To be able to play the game in other continents, other places, and allow them to see how exciting and the type of game we play, I think it’s a good opportunity.”

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MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups set

Auston Matthews would be youngest U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player since 1992

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Auston Matthews, who became the first modern NHL player to score four goals in his first game Wednesday, would be the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player since 1992, should he be on the team in Pyeongchang in 2018.

It is of course very early to make such a projection. For one, the NHL might not send its players to the Olympics like it has done at every Winter Games since 1998.

Matthews, 19, certainly has the early pedigree — he led Team USA in goals (six) and tied for the lead in points (nine) at the world championship in May. Matthews was the youngest player on that team.

Then the Toronto Maple Leafs took him No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft on June 24.

Matthews scored in two of his three games at the World Cup of Hockey in September, against Russia and Sweden, as the youngest American in that tournament.

In 2018, Matthews would be younger than any previous U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player in the NHL participation era (since 1998) and younger than anyone on the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic team.

He would be the youngest since Albertville 1992, when the roster included three 19-year-olds — future NHL players Scott LachanceMike Dunham and Keith Tkachuk.

If he makes the team, that is. A long way to go, but Matthews is off to an exceptional start.

NBCSN will air live coverage of Matthews’ home debut for the Maple Leafs on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET.

MORE: 2018 Olympic men’s hockey groups set

U.S., Canada to meet in World Hockey Championship semifinals

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The U.S. and Canada will meet with a medal at stake at the World Hockey Championship for the first time since the tournament introduced bracket rounds in 1992.

Likely No.  1 NHL Draft pick Auston Matthews scored the U.S. goals in regulation and a shootout, lifting the Americans past the Czech Republic 2-1 and into the Worlds semifinals in Russia on Thursday.

Later, Canada trounced Sweden 6-0 in a rematch of the Sochi Olympic gold-medal game. Russia and Finland advanced to the other semifinal with wins over Germany and Denmark, respectively.

NBC Sports Live Extra will air live coverage of both semifinals on Saturday at 9 a.m. (Russia-Finland) and 1 p.m. ET (U.S.-Canada).

The gold-medal game is Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in Moscow on Live Extra.

The U.S. roster at Worlds includes zero Olympians and, though it has many NHL players, two have made an NHL All-Star team (Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings).

Canada, the reigning World champion, has a more decorated roster of NHL players, including Corey PerryMatt DucheneBrad Marchand and Taylor Hall.

The Americans squeaked into the quarterfinals in the last qualifying spot in its group after losses to Canada, Finland, Germany and Slovakia.

The U.S. earned bronze two of the previous three years at Worlds, beating the Czech Republic in the 2015 bronze-medal game.

The U.S. hasn’t finished higher than third at Worlds since 1960, when it won the title.

MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups announced