Alex Ovechkin talked extensively about the NHL/NHLPA labor dispute at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with reporters from The Washington Times, The Washington Post, Comcast SportsNet and NBC Washington present. Here is the full transcript of his comments:
Back in D.C. for good or watching Maria Kirilenko more at U.S. Open?
“No, no, no. I will stay.”
With CBA uncertainty, what’s your mindset for next couple of weeks?
“Of course nobody wants to be in that position to be in the lockout, but it is what it is and we’re not gonna give up.”
What do you think key is? Sounds like players really want the teams that are struggling financially to be stable. Is that fair?
“Of course it’s fair. I think we wants to help teams who financially is not that good. And the league knows it. But they tell what they want to think if they’re gonna cut us our salary and our contracts’ years is gonna help that. Why they still sign the guys for 10 years and five years? It looks strange and look stupid and they right now say like, ‘We want to cut salary and we want to cut everything.’ And I think lots of guys, they’re just not coming back if this happen.
How confident are you in NHLPA leadership/Donald Fehr?
“I’m very comfortable. I think everybody trusts him, and we know exactly what we’re gonna do and we feel exactly what’s gonna happen. If it’s gonna be lockout, there’s gonna be lockout. We’re ready for that. If we was not ready we’d probably sign that kind of paper [offer] what they give us. But we’re ready and we’re not gonna give up.”
Thought about playing elsewhere/Russia if there’s a lockout?
“Of course I think about it because my hometown have teams and my Russian Federation have a league. Of course I’m probably gonna be there. But I don’t wanna be there; I wanna be here. But, again, my contract is here and I hope the NHL and NHLPA are gonna sign a deal before the 15th.”
What do you think about owners wanting to cut salaries and take money back on contracts already signed?
“I think it’s not fair for us. They still make money, they still sell tickets and they have money. Why they sign us long-term deals and that kind of money to after that when the CBA’s gonna be done, they wanna cut our salary. Why they wanna cut 24? Why don’t they wanna cut a hundred percent of salary?”
Because they need you guys
“Yeah. If they need us, how I say, if they’re gonna cut percentage of the contract and years, I don’t think lots of guys who signed American deals are gonna come back and play here. It’s not reasonable to be here. You have to think of the future, you have to think of your family.”
You think players would leave the NHL and go play elsewhere for the rest of their careers?
“Yeah, why not.”
Would you do that if they cut back 20 percent or 15 percent?
“Well, I’m gonna think about it, but I hope not. It’s something the league want to do it for all the players. [Sidney] Crosby just signed, [Ryan] Suter, [Shea] Weber just signed huge deals and they wanna cut 24 percent for nothing? I don’t think it’s fair enough.”
What are your feelings on the situation?
“I talk to Joe Reekie and he told me about all the situation. Again, I don’t think we’re close enough to make a deal. It’s all about the owners and the [commissioner Gary] Bettman.”
What will get it done? 50-50 split?
“I think we know exactly what we’re gonna do, and I’m not gonna tell you guys right now what’s in our mind.”
How do you think another work stoppage will impact fans?
“Of course it’s gonna be hard, of course it’s gonna be a long time to wait, but it is what it is. Everybody wants to play hockey and make money. Nobody wants to play for free.”
Has anyone from the NHLPA warned you, tell you to prepare or do anything different?
“Not yet because, again, we’re gonna wait till Sept. 15, but it’s something what we’re gonna do as possible.
Listen to the audio clip here.