In an interview with Sovietsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov, former Red Wing star Pavel Datsyuk weighed in on whether he thought NHL players might make it to the Olympics this winter in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“On one hand, I don’t really want to get into what who they might let go [to the Olympics]. It’s not for me to say,” Datsyuk said. “On the other, we just have to wait a bit and everything will be clear. I repeat, there is a chance, and the door still isn’t closed. I think the sides can still agree, but that will happen closer to New Year’s.”
Here are his full remarks.
Tell me, is it your goal to play in the Olympics?
Pavel Datsyuk: I think a lot of players have that goal. It doesn’t matter whether the NHL players will be there or not. I want to play in Pyeongchang and fight for the gold medal.
Is there any other way to think about the Olympics?
Pavel Datsyuk: I certainly don’t know another way. The schedule is really tight, it’s like that for all the teams. The most important thing for me is to get out on the ice and get back into the groove in some games. But hockey’s the type of game that you can’t ever guess what will happen. You just move toward your goal step by step.
So you get into peak shape in February, then it’s the KHL playoffs in March, then the world championships in May.
Pavel Datsyuk: That’s how it goes. In any regard, the Olympics really tire you out. You’ve got to put it all out there for a very short time, because there won’t be a second chance. It’s not like the playoffs where the series is best-of-four. You’ve got to play on the edge the whole time.
So you said it won’t matter if the NHL players come to Pyeongchang or not. But won’t the level of play lag [without them]?
Pavel Datsyuk: What’s the point of talking about something that’s not even 100 percent yet. You’re just making more hot air.
Do you think there’s a chance?
Pavel Datsyuk: Lots of NHL players think that they still may be able to come to Pyeongchang. Of course, the level of play at the Olympics will be higher, and will be better for the fans, if the NHL players come.
It’s already impossible to change the NHL schedule, all the arenas have planned their schedules, and you can’t cancel the All Star Game in January. Are you hinting that each team might let one or two of their stars to Pyeongchang?
Pavel Datsyuk: On one hand, I don’t really want to get into what who they might let go [to the Olympics]. It’s not for me to say. On the other, we just have to wait a bit and everything will be clear. I repeat, there is a chance, and the door still isn’t closed. I think the sides can still agree, but that will happen closer to New Year’s.
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