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NHL will not participate in 2018 Olympics, what does this mean for Alex Ovechkin?

NHL will not participate in 2018 Olympics, what does this mean for Alex Ovechkin?

After weeks of speculation, the NHL closed the book on the 2018 Olympics on Monday declaring the league would not be participating in PyeongChang.

The NHL released this statement regarding the Olympics:

We have previously made clear that, while the overwhelming majority of our Clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject. A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the Clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 Regular Season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.

Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, also released a statement on Monday saying, "We knew it was a very real possibility for many months and certainly respect the decision of the NHL. The good news is that because of our grassroots efforts over the course of many years, our player pool is as deep as it has ever been and we fully expect to field a team that will play for a medal."

Despite the NHL’s recent rhetoric regarding participating, Monday’s announcement is still a rather stunning development.

RELATED: Johansson's stellar week catches NHL's attention

So how did we get here?

At issue is the fact that, after participating in the last five Olympics, a majority of the NHL owners do not believe the benefits out-weigh the risks. By participating in the Olympics, teams are risking the health of their best players in a tournament in which the NHL has no financial stakes in. Play also suffers in a condensed schedule as has been evident at times this season thanks to the new bye week and preseason World Cup Tournament.

The two biggest questions now are what does this mean for players like Alex Ovechkin in 2018 and what does this mean for Beijing in 2022?

Ovechkin has made clear his intentions to represent Team Russia regardless of whether the NHL participates or not. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has also said he will support the captain. How the league will handle these issues remains to be seen. Ovechkin will certainly not be the only player who wants to leave to play in PyeongChang. What can the league or teams do to prevent it? Will others (Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, etc.) follow suit?

This also potentially puts the NHL’s participation in 2022 in jeopardy. The league has made no secret of its hopes to extend the reach of the game through China even going so far as to put a two-game preseason series in there in 2017.

As the NHL’s statement details, the IOC basically told the league participating in the Beijing games in 2022 depended upon its participation in 2018. Which makes sense. So the Olympics are totally unimportant and not worth participating in…until 2022 because that’s a market you’re interested in? Yeah, no thanks. You can do both or neither.

Obviously the NHL is calling the IOC’s bluff. This all sets up another staring contest for 2022. The quality of competition will suffer without the world’s best players, but everyone knows the NHL wants to participate in 2022 so why would the IOC make any concessions?

So who will be playing in the Olympics? No doubt there will be a significant number of players from the KHL. Team Canada and USA will likely have to use junior and college players to fill the ranks as well as veterans playing overseas.

While the NHL hoped to put an end to the speculation before the playoffs, Monday’s announcement has raised more questions than it answered. But, it did answer the biggest question of all and answered it emphatically.

“We now consider the matter officially closed.”

MORE CAPITALS: NHL Power Rankings: Finishing strong?

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Carlson's two goals lead Capitals to sloppy 5-3 win over Calgary

Carlson's two goals lead Capitals to sloppy 5-3 win over Calgary

The Capitals are a perfect 2-0 to start their five-game road trip after a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. It was a sleepy game for the Caps who were largely outplayed through the first two periods. A few short bursts of brilliance, however, were enough to ensure Washington never trailed.

Here is how the Caps won.

A gift for Carlson

John Carlson entered the game as the NHL’s leader in points. He is arguably the hottest player in the league. He doesn’t need gifts, but he was gifted a goal by Calgary goalie Cam Talbot early in the second.

After a sleepy first period, the Caps’ came out swinging in the second and Alex Ovechkin nearly connected with Nicklas Backstrom on a pretty passing play on the backdoor. The puck curled around the boards and Carlson stepped up and just fired a hopeful shot on net that seemed to catch Talbot by surprise as it hit the short-side for the goal.

That is a horrific goal that Talbot just should not have given up. If you watch, he actually shifts a little backward after the initial play missed. Perhaps Talbot misjudged where he was in net, but that is an angle he should have been able to easily cut off based on the position of the puck. Instead, he backed up, left the near-side open and Carlson hit it.

The goal extended Carlson’s point streak to a career-high eight games. He would add an empty-net goal to give him 20 points on the season.

Bank shot!

Just over two minutes after Carlson put the Caps on the board, Chandler Stephenson extended the lead to 2-0 with a great play behind the net to pickpocket Talbot.

Talbot went behind the net to corral a dump-in from Brendan Leipsic, but Stephenson never gave up on the play and zipped in behind the net after Talbot. He stole the puck away from Talbot. He was boxed in by the Flames’ netminder and two more Flames skaters so he attempted to center the puck, but it bounced off of defenseman Rasmus Andersson and into the net.

A 10-second response

Overall, this was not a great game for the Caps. They looked sleepy and out of sync, missing numerous easy passes in the offensive zone that ended their offensive opportunities. Two early goals in the second spotted them a 2-0 lead, but Calgary took control and Austin Czarnik tied the game at 2 late in the period. That briefly woke up the Caps and Ovechkin put Washington back on top just 10 seconds after the game was tied.

Calgary won the faceoff after the goal, but Radko Gudas forced a turnover that Backstrom picked up. Two forwards had gone past him in anticipation of entering the offensive zone, a third player was on the ice after getting hit by Gudas, one defenseman stepped to the boards to give T.J. Oshie a shove, but could not recover to stop Backstrom and suddenly Backstrom was in behind four players for a 2-on-1 with Ovechkin. He made the simple backhand pass on the rush and Ovechkin fired the one-timer into the net.

Jakub Vrana’s drive to the net

Michal Kempny fired a stretch pass to launch a breakout. It looked like Travis Hamonic could have grabbed the puck, but he couldn’t control it and left it out for Lars Eller to continue the attack. As Eller took the puck, Jakub Vrana drove hard to the net bringing Noah Hanifin with him and that left Tom Wilson wide open. Eller passed to Wilson who netted the knockout punch.

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Capitals debut Nationals-themed name plates in advance of World Series

Capitals debut Nationals-themed name plates in advance of World Series

The Capitals took to Twitter to share their support for their D.C. family in a unique and fun way.

Prior to Game 1 of the World Series, the Capitals decided to debut Washington Nationals-themed nameplates in their locker room.

 

The red and white nameplates displayed both team's logos. 

The two teams are pretty close. This is not the first time they have shared support for one another.

As the Nationals find themselves on a similar journey to the 2018 Capitals, players like Adam Eaton have said they draw inspiration from their counterparts.

During the NLDS series against the Dodgers, Alexander Ovechkin was in attendance to throw out the first pitch, and a little later the Nationals returned the favor.

The Nationals were invited to Capital One Arena for the game against the New York Rangers on October 18th because they had a night off. Eaton read the starting lines and ace pitcher Max Scherzer was supposed to drop the first puck but instead, threw the Washington Capitals a curveball, dropping the first baseball.

Both teams are on the road. The Nationals will face off against the Astros in Houston, Tuesday night at 8:08 p.m. while the Capitals take on the Flames in Calgary.

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