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Ovechkin: I’ll stay in the KHL if the NHL cuts salaries

Sep 19, 2012, 1:16 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin is threatening to stay in the KHL past this season, even if a new CBA between the NHL and NHLPA is negotiated before then.

“If our salaries get slashed, I’ll have to think about whether to return to NHL,” Ovechkin said upon joining Dynamo Moscow, as per Slava Malamud of Sport-Express.

“I won’t rule out staying in Russia past this season”

Whether he could carry out such a threat is another thing.

The NHL and KHL have an agreement to honor each other’s contracts, and once a new NHL CBA is signed and the lockout ends, Ovechkin would be under contract to the Capitals.

Perhaps the KHL could argue Ovechkin’s NHL contract was violated if the new CBA results in rollbacks or other lost salary. However, not only would that be a tough case to make, it would be fraught with potential consequences, such as the NHL barring its players from the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia.

Related: Ovechkin especially motivated to fight owners

  1. goalieguy37 - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    he’s probably afraid that he’ll have to play defense if he comes back:)

    • polegojim - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:03 PM

      Haha… exactly what I was thinking.

      I’m good with him staying.

    • blomfeld - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:53 PM


      Obviously the goof’s reading from a prepared script. What you don’t see which is likely just out of sight from the camera, is the barrel of a Kalashnikov pointing right at the idiot’s head. Judging by the new haircut and stark backdrop, I’d bet dimes to dollars that “big man” Ovi’s been arrested and is now under-going a psychiatric assessment at some Russian mental-wellness facility !

  2. lvshark22 - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Can you blame him? If he is getting offered the same amount to stay in the KHL, then why wouldn’t he want to stay in the country he is from and be closer to his family

    • travishenryskid - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      Maybe because nobody dreams of being KHL champion? Or because the NHL is still BY FAR the best league on earth? Or because the arenas, amenities and lifestyle in the KHL is dirt compared to the NHL?

      • stakex - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:12 PM

        If you honestly think, especially given the current lockout situation, that money is not the very first priority for the vast majority of professional athletes, you are giving these guys way too much credit.

        Not to say theres anything wrong with money being their first priority. Afterall, when you’re a professional, how much you get paid generally helps determin where you’re going to work.

      • michiganhockey11 - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:55 PM

        Not trying to make light of what happened in any way to Lokomotiv and their personnel, but I would not trust planes or pilots in the KHL right now, or ever.

      • blomfeld - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:39 PM

        It’s not actually a laughing matter. Not so many years ago, we used to get shocked by the sight of Aeroflot pilots hanging the heads out of the cockpit window with cigarettes dangling from their lips … during re-fueling on the tarmac ! That’s just the way they are and it will never change.

      • reap17 - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:54 PM

        you dont know what russian kids dream about, if i was ovi i would stay in russia if i got payed the same. Lets say the KHL was the best league on earth and NHL was second. you had to leave your family and go play in the KHL because its a better league. but if an NHL team offered you the same amount of money i bet you would come back to your HOME COUNTRY to play. I dont blame ovi.

      • eyeh8goodell - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:35 PM

        What makes you think Russian players grow up dreaming of winning a North American sports trophy? They don’t. They may crave the prestige and lifestyle the NHL offers….but the Stanley Cup is not thier trophy. It doesn’t mean nearly as much to them……..or any European.

      • travishenryskid - Sep 20, 2012 at 9:29 AM

        You’re trying to tell me this kid didn’t dream about the NHL?

  3. anthonykornheiser - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Exactly, he’ll be a god there. Doesn’t have to worry about underachieving as usual. Worry about getting back on d, disappearing in the playoffs etc etc etc

  4. bcsteele - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Someone was talking about it a few days ago, but I think the league better consider the situation here. I’ve said from the get go that the finances still aren’t right and the league probably does need a little more to work effectively (I still think they low-balled the players but they need to meet in the middle).

    All that aside, however, the players are MUCH more united and prepared this time around un like last time. I don’t at all remember this many players moving so fast to play elsewhere. I think the league and the players need to get something done before we start missing regular season games or I think, whether I like it or not, we could have a rather extended lock out.

    • tealwithit - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM

      That may be true, but we’re only hearing from a select group of players, and they’re saying what they’ve been told to say. Fehr wants the players to appear united and strong, so that’s what they’re showing us. It’s easy to forget how many players can’t afford a lockout. Over half of all NHL players play less than 100 games in their career, and half play four seasons or less. The average career lasts 238 games, but the median career is only 86 games. The average salary is $2.4 million, but the median is about $1.4 million – so roughly 1/3 of the union is making less than $1 million.
      And then when you consider that each paycheck represents 8.3 percent of a player’s salary (and the owners’ proposal asks for an 8 percent pay cut in the first year), it becomes pretty clear that skipping more than one or two of those has got to be really difficult for a lot of players. How many 8.3 percent paychecks are they going to be willing to miss while fighting over 8 percent?
      If I was one of the guys in that one-third group, I wouldn’t be all too thrilled with players like Ovechkin going around saying they’d be happy to spend a year or more playing in the KHL if the owners don’t give in. Not everyone has the luxury of heading to Europe and collecting paychecks over there.

  5. travishenryskid - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    That wouldn’t be such a bad thing for the Caps. He’s not the player he once was, but is still being paid like he is. In the playoffs, the caps were winning despite Ovi, not because of him. I don’t have anything against him, but seriously, you don’t have the clout you once had, so do whatever you want, nobody cares.

    • lebcapsfan - Sep 20, 2012 at 5:11 PM

      Not completely true. The Caps after hitting a brick wall named Halak in 2010 switched to a defense first system (under Boudreau and Hunter) from the run-and-gun system the Capitals used in years prior, and Ovechkin as well as most other player’ numbers collapsed, from Backstrom to Ovi to Green to Semin…

      It’ll be interesting to see what system Dynamo Moscow uses and how will Ovechkin fair in it.

  6. bhawksrule - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Ok i’m not quite understanding why these players will take pay cuts to play in the KHL but wont take pay cuts to play in the NHL. You are only allowed 65% of your NHL contract in the KHL .

    • trick9 - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:19 PM

      Ovechkin and Datsyuk and players like that aren’t alone in representing NHLPA. They could propably take small cuts but what about 4th line grinders that already make the minimum salary.

      • tmoore4075 - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        Not saying they should take a pay cut but to play devils advocate, wouldn’t taking a pay cut be better than missing out on a whole years worth of money? Ovie and other stars are off in Europe making good money while those 4th liners are sitting at home not getting paid.

        Looks a little hypocritical to me how the players are saying they are united while guys are running off the Europe to get paid while the lower end players, who need the money more, are sitting at home. “We’re here for ya boys. Don’t want you to have to take a cut…while we make a few million while we wait it out. For the good of the players though.”

      • claysbar - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:06 PM

        Another thing to remember is staying in game shape. You can practice all you want but real game play is the important thing. When the lockout is over, it’ll be shortened camp, few, if any, pre-season games and then probably, depending on when it ends, a situation like the NBA, playing 4 games a week for a few months. I’m not B-Ball fan at all but just remember seeing all the injury reports because guys were not in game shape and they were playing too much, too quickly.

      • barkar942 - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:35 PM

        Didn’t the KHL say they wouldn’t tender offers to second tier players?
        Something tells me that Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust and a hundred more like them won’t be suiting up any time soon there!

      • hockeydon10 - Sep 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

        They’re willing to see their share of HRR reduced over time. That’s not even in question any more. What they’re unwilling to do is give the owners immediate kickbacks when the new contract is signed.

  7. DTF31 - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    I bet Leonsis is changing his tune right about now.

  8. dkphilly1122 - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    i’d take Ovi on the Flyers if you Caps fans don’t want him anymore, since he isn’t the “player” he use to be. Did you ever think he’s bored with no other superstar or GOOD player to play on a line with?? They play the game to win Cups, not be mediocre. Backstrom is a good player, but he isn’t a superstar and they need more than two good players to go anywhere. Send him to the Flyers so he can play with another Superstar in G.

    • theenutty - Sep 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM

      Lets have Giroux put up more than one 90 pt season before we christen him a “superstar”.

  9. mpg44 - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:53 PM


  10. travishenryskid - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    In Russia, he’ll be able to get back on the juice that the NHL swept under the rug after they made him stop. Maybe he can get back to his old self.

  11. capsfan19 - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    First of all ovi will stay on the caps. If u dont want him there you’re nuts. He may not be scoring 50+ goals but he’s maturing his game and going through a slump. I will never rule a player like him out

    • ravenscaps48 - Sep 20, 2012 at 9:04 AM

      In agreeance with this statement, I’d like to point out that Ovie scored 38 Goals. Which was good for 5th in the League. If he is in a slump, and he is still top 5 in Goals Scored? I will happily take that… And another thing. He scored 38 Goals, with his best playmaker out for 41 games! You mean to tell me that none of you clowns think that he wouldn’t have gotten 12 or more Goals if Backstrom hadn’t been elbowed by Rene Bourque and played a full season? I think he would’ve definitely eclipsed the 50 Goal mark

  12. sippindasyzurp - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Of course the high paid salary players are untied! They could go the rest of there lives without worrying about a single cent from the there current contracts!

    Its the third and fourth line players, that can’t really go to Europe which will begin to divide “solidarity” in the union once that 15-20,000 game paycheck starts to be missed and they have no where to turn to play hockey for that kind of money.. Even former players are saying, it ain’t worth losing a whole season because they will never see that money again in there life! WAKE UP

    And for all this union solidarity Bull S H I T that they spew, they have no problem going to Europe and taking jobs away from the other players there to benefit themselves… They are a bunch of hypocrites, who only care about them and them only… I am not saying that it’s wrong to care about yourself, but don’t go around saying how “tight” you are and then go take other players jobs who are trying to feed there family!

    • michiganhockey11 - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:04 PM

      Then again, “most” hockey players don’t live like their counterparts in football/basketball. That being the case, they (even 3-4 liners) shouldn’t do “too” bad if games are missed or if an entire season is (compared to the rest of us that don’t make sports salaries).

  13. caniacx4 - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    SEE YA BABY “O”.

  14. stakex - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    I like Ovi, but comes on…. we all know this is BS. Hes just trying to put a little pressure on the NHL with talk like this. Obviously he will be back in Washington when the season finally starts (and it will start this year I would bet) no matter what the new CBA looks like.

    Now like Ovi or hate him, he is still one of the biggest stars in the NHL. The league doesn’t want to hear talk like this, and REALLY doesn’t want to see one of its biggest stars end up in the KHL. Will it help the deadlock? Probably not… but you better believe Bettman has this in the back of his mind.

    • tealwithit - Sep 20, 2012 at 1:05 AM

      It doesn’t help. All this stuff does is anger the owners, not scare them. He’s got a contract, so he has to come back to the NHL as soon as the lockout ends, unless he can somehow get out of it… which is very unlikely. And having him go to Russia in the meantime doesn’t hurt the owners. If anything, comments like these serve to turn fans against him and the players. And while fan sympathy doesn’t do much to benefit either side in terms of the CBA negotiations, Fehr’s probably focusing so much time and energy on gaining fan support for the players because it helps in keeping them from feeling even more pressure to cave in.

      • hockeydon10 - Sep 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM

        He has a contract so he has to honor it unless he can get out of it?

        He has a contract so the owners have to honor it, which does not include asking for kickbacks.

      • tealwithit - Sep 21, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        hockeydon10 – First statement is true. Second statement should be “He has a contract so the owners should honor it.” The expiration of the CBA allows for the negotiation of a new deal, and player contracts are contingent on the terms of whatever CBA is currently in place. As much as it sucks to go through this every 5-10 years, CBAs have expiration dates for a reason. Things change over time, especially when a league sees the kind of unexpected growth that the NHL has, and the terms of the agreement need to be adjusted accordingly. Unfortunately, that sometimes means the players get screwed.

  15. smgraff4 - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    What it does do is make us realize the NHL was probably stupid for expanding into areas where kids aren’t playing the sport. The lockouts are happening because the NHL took too many risks into expanding into markets that will never be hockey markets no matter how hard the league tries. At this point, someone has to admit that this was a mistake…particularly if the other factors that sustain the pro game and interest in the sport, college hockey teams at the local colleges or Major Junior teamsk, or high school teams.

    I am saying this for places like DC and Philly (let alone the South and Southwest), where by now at least one big school–Maryland, or Penn St.–should be fielding a college hockey team or several major junior teams–and they are either not or just getting off the ground now.

    • blomfeld - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      Well said friend ! … this is exactly why I’ve always maintained that Bettman’s “sunbelt” experiment was a complete and colossal mistake, driven by nothing more than blind greed and stupidity. Ice hockey taking root in the land of scorpions and 100 degree temperatures (ie: Phoenix) makes about as much sense as the WNBA expanding into Saudi Arabia !

    • michflaguy - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:10 PM

      So true. Nicely said. I am from Michigan (Go Wings), but now live in Florida, and NO ONE down here under the age of 30 is interested in hockey. It was a HUGE mistake to blindly start up new teams in the Sun Belt…it just doesn’t fit. I say that if they want more teams, they should try to double up teams in the *existing* big US markets like Chicago, Detroit, Boston, etc. Those towns could EASILY support two NHL teams, and the $$$ would not be a problem come contract time for the league. Just a thought…

      • eyeh8goodell - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:46 PM

        That’s BS. I’m from PA and I live and play hockey here in South Florida. Im 37 but i can say for sure the youth hockey scene here has gotten far stronger over the years. Don’t make the mistake of using Panthers ticket sales as a measuring stick for an area’s viability. I guarantee you the USA Hockey membership numbers here dwarf the Panthers ticket sales.

      • tealwithit - Sep 20, 2012 at 1:13 AM

        You can’t put two NHL teams in one market. Even LA can barely support both the Lakers and the Clippers… And it’s LA (and the Staples Center), which has enough celebrities and wealthy people who can afford to pay enormous ticket prices to be seen at Lakers games, and a large and diverse enough population to also be able to fill seats at Clippers games. Plus it’s the NBA.

      • manchestermiracle - Sep 20, 2012 at 4:45 PM

        tealwithit: Clippers were #7 in attendance last year, Lakers #8. Is that your definition of “barely” supporting?

      • tealwithit - Sep 21, 2012 at 4:05 PM

        manchestermiracle – I’m a Clippers fan. There aren’t many of us. And I really only started liking them years ago because I felt sorry for them. Last season was not typical for that team… Chris Paul and the “Lob City” thing brought them a lot of attention, they made the playoffs (for the fifth time since they left Buffalo in the ’70s), and they went further in the playoffs than the Lakers, which was a big deal. The Lakers’ attendance was low because the team was struggling, ticket prices were still outrageous, and they have a lot of fair-weather fans who started going to Kings games when it became cool. Clip Show tickets were far cheaper, and they had the more exciting team.

  16. kodyknight2821 - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    What a captain..

    • tru2joelu4eva - Sep 20, 2012 at 2:52 AM


    • ravenscaps48 - Sep 20, 2012 at 9:08 AM

      He’s not the Captain of this team. Everyone knows that Brooks Laich is the Heart and Soul of the Caps. Ovechkin is Captain because Crosby is a Captain, that’s the ONLY reason!

  17. michflaguy - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    It’s September.
    The NFL season has started.
    Baseball is nearing the playoffs.
    College football is underway too.
    NO ONE is going to care if the NHL doesn’t start the season on time…and *that* will hurt the game and EVERYONE in the game: players, owners, coaches, fans. Everyone.
    Get your heads out of your sphincters and get a stinkin’ deal signed and START SKATING!!!
    Go Wings! : – )

  18. ricepilof - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    please please please Ovi, just stay over there. You are washed up anyways. Your days of scoring 60+ goals in the NHL are far behind you and you will barely crack the 40+ goals in a season ever again. Dale Hunter must have left a sour taste in your pus when you got a great dose of reality last playoffs.

  19. sportmentary - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    Good. I hope it becomes reality and not just words. I can;t stand the guy.

  20. babykaby - Sep 20, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    First of all, to those of you saying Caps fans don’t want Ovechkin on the team, you are mistaken. I can guarantee 95% of Caps fans want Ovi back and love having him on the team. Next, for those of you saying Ovi shouldn’t be captain, that Brooks Laich should be, Ovechkin’s teammates wanted him as captain. I think their opinions mean more on that subject than yours. Let’s continue. Those of you saying he’s not any good anymore, that he is washed up, to be fifth in the league in scoring in an “off” year is not washed up. Most of you finding fault with Ovi are fans of other teams and would love to have Ovechkin on your team, it is not going to happen so find fault with your own less than spectacular players and get off Ovi’s back. Specifically to the IDIOT who states Backstrom is only a good player and that affected Ovi, obviously you do not watch him play. It is common knowledge to most hockey people in the know, Backstrom is much better than just “good”. This past season Backstrom missed most of the season because of a cheap shot to the head, and when he did play it was mostly on the second line with Semin, maybe if he had played more often with Ovi both of their numbers would have been better. Finally, before I jump down from my soapbox, in this day and age only a fool would be willing to give part of their paycheck back to their employer. If you say you would give money back to your wealthy boss, I’m calling you a straight out liar or just plain stupid. Rock on, Ovi.

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