At 10 p.m. Wednesday night in Tampa, Alex Ovechkin was still stinging from the Capitals’ sweeping exit from the playoffs. But in a couple days he’ll be back on the ice for game action.
Ovechkin is set to travel to Slovakia to join Russia’s roster for the ongoing world championships. It’s not where the Caps’ superstar left wing wants to be right now, but it’s hockey and a chance to win.
I talked to President [Vladislav] Tretiak and they asked me if I go and I said yes I go,” Ovechkin said Thursday. “I don’t want to go there but I will because I want to play in playoffs, win Stanley Cup but the situation is the situation and I’m going to play for my country and try to win gold.”
Ovechkin talked about playing hurt for most of the year through various injuries. But Washington’s brass doesn’t see an issue with him going to worlds.
“He’s healthy now and he wants to play and I’ve never had a problem with players going to the world championships if they want to play,” general manager George McPhee said. “If they buy in 100 percent and they’re there because they want to play – not because they feel obligated because their country’s asking them to play; they’ve got to want to play. And he wants to play. So we’re fine with that.”
The Caps’ two other Russian players were not immediately chosen to play in the world championships and one certainly won’t be.
“We won’t invite Semin under any circumstances,” coach Vyacheslav Bykov told Sovietsky Sport, a Russian media outlet. “His play in the last Washington game was very weak.”
Semyon Varlamov didn’t get the call after the Caps’ elimination, but it’s not yet known whether an injury to Evgeni Nabokov will change that. Varlamov hasn’t played in a month as Michal Neuvirth started every playoff game.