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Alex Ovechkin again says he plans to play in 2018 Olympics even if NHL doesn’t participate

Russia v USA - 2016 IIHF World Championship Ice Hockey: Bronze Medal Game

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 22: Alexander Ovechkin #8 of Russia skates against USA at Ice Palace on May 22, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)

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Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin loves representing his country in international hockey tournaments.

That is especially true when it comes to the Olympics.

On Thursday, during the World Cup of Hockey media day in Toronto, he repeated his intention to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, whether the NHL decides to participate in the games or not.

This is not the first time Ovechkin has stated this desire. He made a similar statement one year ago to a Russian media publication and was adamant about playing in the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.

What makes Ovechkin’s commitment to playing such a big deal is the fact at this point we don’t know if NHL players will be participating in the 2018 games.

The NHL has sent its players to the Olympics since the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan, but in recent years their participation has become more of an uncertainty every time the Olympics draw near. They always find a way to make it work in the end.

Still two years away from the Pyeongchang games, that uncertainty seems to be higher than it’s ever been leading up to the Olympics, especially as the NHL tries to build the World Cup into something that might be viewed as a replacement for Olympic participation.

Earlier this week NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Associated Press that talks between the league and the Olympic/IIHF have been “radio silent.”

Ovechkin has played for the Russian Olympic team three times, scoring eight goals in those games.

Russia’s 2014 Olympic appearance was an especially disappointing -- even worse because it happened on their home ice -- as they failed to earn a medal and won only two games, a 5-2 win over Slovenia in the preliminary round, and a 4-0 win over Norway in the qualification playoffs.