The Washington Times - January 16, 2013, 02:13PM

Alex Ovechkin will be a torchbearer for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the Washington Capitals captain reiterated Wednesday he’s playing for his country in the Games whether the NHL gives its blessing or not.

Ovechkin will carry the torch as part of the 123-day relay.

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“I’m very excited. It’s a big thing in Russia and it’s a very good thing,” Ovechkin said. “I’m very proud I’m one of the guy who is going to have torch. I’m very happy, and it means a lot to me.”

Ovechkin doesn’t know what part of the journey he’ll be doing. But he does know he’ll be representing Russia whether the NHL decided to take a break and send its players or not.

“To be honest I didn’t think about it right now. It doesn’t matter what they’re going to say to me,” Ovechkin said. “Of course it means a lot for everybody, for all the Russians. I’ve been in Olympic games and I know exactly how it feel to play there. It’s pretty big, biggest event in the world.”

Olympic participation was not something written into the new collective bargaining agreement, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, because it has to do with the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation as well.