Alex Ovechkin knew right away how badly he was missed. When he landed at Dulles International Airport on Monday afternoon, the Washington Capitals captain heard firsthand the sound of the end of the NHL lockout.
“People just recognize me and say, ‘Hey, thanks very much for coming back. We can’t wait to see you play,’” Ovechkin said. “It means a lot.”
It means a lot to the Caps to have Ovechkin back from the Kontinental Hockey League, skating and preparing for the 48-game season that awaits. The star left wing had reservations about the new collective bargaining agreement and in September said he might stay in Russia if his contract was slashed, but there he was skating at the team’s practice facility Tuesday.
“I want to find out what the deal is because if this lockout is done, it’s done,” Ovechkin said. “Sometimes you just think, ‘Why [did] we do that?’ But it’s over, so I’m happy to [be] back. It was hard time, but I think everybody miss hockey so badly right now. It’s nice to be back.”
Ovechkin said from before the start of the lockout that he and other Russian players would likely stay there if the CBA meant salary reductions. Escrow will be higher for players, but there are no rollbacks.
“He was coming back, and it’s my understanding that within 10 hours of the handshake deal, he was packed up, moved out and on a plane,” McPhee said. “He wants to play here, and it’s the best league in the world. If you’re a competitive guy, it’s the place you want to be.”
While many NHL stars, such as Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos, chose to remain in North America, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin were among those who played games for the past few months.
“I think it’s going to help me and Backy and the guys who play some hockey,” Ovechkin said. “Again, it’s better to play hockey than sit out there and just come here and make a skate by yourself and do nothing because we’re hockey players.”
Soon enough, Ovechkin and the Caps will be able to play hockey again. Players are trickling into town this week, with training camp expected to open Sunday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. Daly also said if the new CBA is ratified on time for that, the league will plan to start the season Saturday, Jan. 19.
A shortened training camp could make it difficult for players to get into game shape right away. But that’s where Ovechkin has an edge.
“You would think that those players are going to be ahead of those players that haven’t been playing,” McPhee said. “I guess for that reason I kind of wish that they had all been playing. But there are pluses and minuses and we’ll see. But I think for Ovi, he’ll be ready to go.”
One positive for the Caps is that there was more buzz Tuesday about the Russian-language shirt Ovechkin wore, which said, “What, I am the most beautiful one here again?” than about the winger being out of shape.
Oh, and Ovechkin came back fresh off getting engaged to tennis star Maria Kirilenko.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
What does the middle-class conservative think about everything? Find out here.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc