One of the last remaining goals in Alex Ovechkin’s career is to win a gold medal in the Olympics just like his mother, Tatyana, did with the USSR’s basketball team in 1976 and 1980. Ovechkin wears the number eight in the NHL in Tatyana’s honor.
But NHL participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics is not a done deal yet, causing NHL commissioner Gary Bettman a lot of “consternation.” During the NHL’s and NHLPA’s CBA negotiations last year, the two sides agreed that players would participate in the next two Olympic games. But issues caused by the pandemic, such as COVID-related insurance, have caused negotiations to spill well into the summer. The NHL, which will have to bake in a three-week pause in the 2021-22 season to accomodate participation, wants to release next season’s schedule before the start of the NHL Draft on July 23.
Ovechkin, who has long been a vocal NHLPA leader for Olympic participation, is not sweating the negotiations or what may or may not happen despite how badly he wants to win gold.
“Do you have a feeling if the NHL will go to the 2022 Olympics in Beijing? After all, this is spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement with the players,” asked Match TV’s Pavel Lysenkov in a Russian language interview.
“You know, I don’t even rack my brains on this topic now,” Ovechkin said per Google Translate. “I don’t look ahead at all. I am just starting the preparatory period for the season. What will be will be. I hope we go.
“I heard they said there are two options for the NHL schedule for the season,” Ovechkin added. “I think everything will be decided in the near future.”
Other superstar players have been more urgent about a decision including Connor McDavid and Victor Hedman.
“As players, we’re expecting to go,” the Canadian McDavid said according to Sportsnet. “We’re expecting the league to make that happen.”
“This might be the last chance I get, so it sucks to hear,” Hedman, a possible memeber of Sweden’s team, said in response to the struggling negotiations.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that after Bettman’s consternation comments during the Stanley Cup Final, the NHLPA canvassed its players and they still remained resolute on playing even if “even if it is not the Olympics as we are used to.”
For Ovechkin, his calm attitude towards participation in next year’s games is a departure from the past, where he has threatened to leave the Capitals during the regular season to participate even without NHL approval.
Meanwhile, Ovechkin, who was an Ambassador for the Sochi Olympic Games, wanted to attend the postponed 2020 Olympic Games that are being held in Tokyo beginning next Friday, but is unable to due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“It won’t work this year, because you can’t just fly there,” Ovechkin said.
Ovechkin also offered his well wishes to Russian athletes participating in the games in Tokyo.
“I wish you victories, do without injuries, and worthily represent our country at the highest level,” he said.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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