To whom it may concern:
I saw the statement from Alex Ovechkin, the one where you can almost hear his heart break as he acknowledges that he won’t play in the Olympics. I like that he uses the word “sucks” in the statement. It’s a good word; it really nails when a situation is both unfortunate and mindblowingly stupid.
The NHL refusing to participate in the Olympics indeed sucks. It’s petty. In that spirit of pettiness, and just in case someone important reads this, I’d like to voice my support for letting Alex Ovechkin play in the Olympics anyway.
I didn’t always feel this way. You made me feel this way. I used to want all my Capitals players wearing their Capitals uniforms for 82 Capitals games every regular season. But in this last decade, I have been programmed – against my will – to believe that the regular season does not matter.
In this last decade the Washington Capitals have won 458 regular-season games, more than any team except for – actually, don’t worry about that, never mind. The point is that no one cares. Hockey orthodoxy has drilled into us the lessened importance of the rego, as everyone everywhere is calling it.
What really matters is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where the Capitals have been the league’s perennial disappointment. Despite being supposed contenders just about every year, the Caps have not passed the second round once. This is the team’s lasting shame, and it is supposed to sour for fans the otherwise sweet succor of regular-season success.
Congrats, it worked! I now care less about my preferred hockey team winning games during 90 percent of the year. So it’s totally fine with me if Alex Ovechkin skips some of those games to play in the Olympics, which I know still matter, because jeez, Ovi basically cried on the internet last night.
Based on the timing and length of previous Olympic tournaments, here are the games I think Ovi would definitely have to miss to play in Pyeongchang, assuming he doesn’t practice with the Russian team, which, let’s be real, you guys:
Okay, now I super don’t care if Alex Ovechkin goes to the Olympics.
None of these games are in the division, and just two are at home. There might be just two good games in the whole block (Minnesota and Tampa), and even those two, I’m told, don’t matter.
I understand that the NHL is steadfast in its position not to participate in the Olympics. The public reason involves umbrage at the IIHF and IOC for refusing to foot the bill. Another, less public reason is gaining leverage over the players association through a cynical act of self-sabotage –- i.e. forgoing Olympic promotion that the league desperately needs to rise above its status as the also-ran of major sports — so they can use future tournaments as a chip in an upcoming collective bargaining agreement that will be used as cover for owners to nullify the bad contracts they signed during the current CBA without ceding ground on revenue. That’s gross.
Alex Ovechkin probably isn’t going to win a Stanley Cup. At least not with the Capitals. But for more than a third of his life, he’s been the demented smiling face of this franchise and league. Through his goodwill, hasn’t he earned the latitude to miss seven boring games in the doldrums of a regular season that doesn’t even matter?
C’mon. Let Ovi go.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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