If Gary Bettman thinks the World Cup of Hockey will make the players forget about the Olympics, he is sadly mistaken. That was Alex Ovechkin's message on Thursday at media day for the World Cup as he declared he would participate in the 2018 Olympics even if the NHL does not.
"It's a situation when you don't know what's going to happen," Ovechkin said. "Obviously, I said I'm going to play."
When asked to clarify if he meant he would go regardless of the NHL's decision, Ovechkin confirmed that he would, saying, "I will go there."
You can see the interview in the video above.
The NHL has not come to a final decision regarding participation in the 2018 games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but all signs seem to point to the league not taking part.
Ovechkin takes representing his nation very seriously and made the same declaration prior to the 2014 Olympics held in Sochi. The Russian native was adamant that he would not miss the Olympic games in his home country.
It's no secret the NHL would prefer the players not go. Participation means shutting down the regular season for two weeks and puts star players at risk for injury in a tournament in which the league has no financial stake in.
The World Cup was seen as a compromise by the league, a way for players to represent their country, but in a tournament run by the NHL to ensure the tournament would not interrupt the season.
To Ovechkin, however, there appears to be no replacement for the Olympics.
The ramifications for a player simply leaving in the middle of the season remain to be seen, but Ovechkin may have a solution for that too.
"Maybe I'm going to be retired," he said.
For the Caps' sake, let's hope not.
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