- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2017

Alex Ovechkin has come to terms with not being able to play in the upcoming Olympics. Though, he’s not happy about it.

The Washington Capitals star released a statement late Thursday saying he understands he won’t be allowed to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February. Previously, Ovechkin said he would still go if asked, regardless of the NHL’s prevention of players from participating in the games.

The news comes on the eve of the Capitals’ training camp, which starts Friday, and days after Vladislav Tretiak, the head of the Russian Hockey Federation, told Russian media that Ovechkin would have to accept not being able to participate.

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Now, he has.

“I see the news this week and I am very disappointed that IOC, IIHF and NHL put me and all NHL players in this position when some of the best players in world do not have chance to play in the Olympic Games,” Ovechkin said in a statement. “This is not just about me but all the NHL players who want to play and have a chance to win Gold for their country. Our countries are now not allowed to ask us to play in the Olympics. Me, my teammates and all players who want to go all lose. So do all the fans of hockey with this decision that we are not allowed to be invited. NHL players in the Olympics is good for hockey and good for Olympics. It sucks that will we not be there to play!!”

In his statement, Ovechkin said playing for Russia had a personal weight since his mother was a two-time Olympic champion. He said any time his country asked him to play, he wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

But the RHF and other countries’ hockey organizations have accepted the NHL’s ruling that players under contract won’t be able to participate in the Olympics. With that, Ovechkin said there is nothing more to discuss.

In May, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said at the Stanley Cup Finals that “we have an expectation that none of our players are going” to the Olympics and wouldn’t comment on what would happen if Ovechkin or any other player rebelled. The NHL opted out of the games in April because of the disruptions the Olympics would cause to the regular season. 

Ovechkin thanked Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who said in December he fully supported Ovechkin playing in the Olympics.

“There is nothing like Olympic Games,” Ovechkin said. “It is still my dream to win an Olympic Gold medal for my country. I hope things will change and all of us will have a chance to go again in 2022. What’s most important to remember is kids have lots of dreams. My focus as it always is this time of year is on my other dream as a kid, to try to win the Stanley Cup.

“I am excited training camp has started in Washington and the time for talking is done. We just have to go out and do it and I will try my hardest to help my teammates win like I do every year since I came to the NHL.”

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