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Caps’ owner will let Ovechkin play in Olympics

Jan 17, 2013, 11:02 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin AP

If Alex Ovechkin wants to play in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, then he can even if the NHL doesn’t participate.

“If they don’t and Alex still wants to go to the Olympics, I’m going to be honest, I’m going to let him go,” Leonsis said, according to the Washington Post. “I just think it’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing for him to have something played in Russia.

“He’s going to be a torchbearer and it’s very important to him and his family. Who am I to get in the way of him wanting to fulfill that? And I know that’s a slippery slope because if Nick [Backstrom] says then he wants to play for Sweden, we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it. But I think that I’m going to lean to the side of the players in that one.”

Leonsis’ statements are nothing new. In fact, he said something very similar in 2009 in a The Hockey News report. Still, with less than 13 months until the start of the games and no commitment from the NHL, it’s noteworthy that Leonsis is strongly standing behind his earlier statements.

Ovechkin told the Post that he’s “proud” to have been selected as one of the torchbearers and plans to participate in the Olympics.

The Winter Games will take place from Feb. 7-23, so if the NHL opts against playing, then Ovechkin would be absent for a key portion of the season.

Leonsis added that the 2014 Olympics was “never brought up, discussed at all during the [labor] negotiations.”

CSNWashington.com has the entire Leonsis Q&A (split into three parts) below:

“I’ve never made a penny of profit”

“Our fans will come back”

“Alex Ovechkin is psyched right now”

  1. jasndc75 - Jan 17, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    well, no fan of Ovi, the Caps, or the Russians, but this is GREAT. Please NHL, do the right thing, we want the best in the Olympics.

    • thailer35 - Jan 18, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      “I’m not looking for the best players, Craig, I’m looking for the right ones.”

  2. bigbadbruins77 - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    so how many games would he miss if the NHL did not support ?

  3. valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    Will he be paid while he’s there and more importantly what happens to his salary if he suffers an injury?
    a) Season ending b) career ending c) out for a portion of the season. I expect Leonsis to want to protect his investment.

    • valoisvipers - Jan 18, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      All good questions, I would think Ovi would have to shell out some dollars to Lloyds of London to cover his fat contract.Still it is nice of Leonis but it could hurt the team if the NHL doesn’t participate in the Olympics. It also opens a can of worms for Leonis and other owners for other players that would want to play. I think the NHL is just playing hardball to get something they want(cash) from Jacques and the Olympic committee.

  4. valoisvipers - Jan 18, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Do you think that any or all of these players will play the whole shortened season this year?
    Damien Brunner Detroit
    Mikhail Grigorenko Buffalo
    Alex Galchenyuk Montreal
    Mikael Granlund Minnesota
    Nail Yakupov Edmonton

    • valoisvipers - Jan 18, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Just to be clear I am wondering which players will play more than 5 games and stay with the big team. I would also like to hear some point predictions for them as well. Yes I’m working on a hockey pool.

  5. jdvalk - Jan 18, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Lets be honest, the NHL has shown multiple times that it can blow off a number of games in a season; why not do it for a worthwhile purpose (if seeing pros compete in the Olympics is worthwhile)…

  6. dolphincult - Jan 19, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    good for Ovie. Just another bettman blunder if they dont participate in the olympics. I bet if the players said they dont wanna go then bettman would get his little man syndrome and say “we will copy whatever the nba does, nevermind what the players want”

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