Getty ImagesAlex Ovechkin was the most prominent NHL exile to openly question his future with the League due to the lockout.
His angst was born out of the owners' desire to "cut our salaries"; he told RIA Novosti back in September that "I will have to think whether to return there or not. I won't rule out staying in the KHL, even past this season."
The Washington Capitals star has been playing well for Dynamo Moscow during the lockout, and his popularity falls somewhere between Santa Claus and the inventor of the vodka luge in Russia. There would seem to be even fewer compelling reasons to return to the NHL now than there were at the start of the lockout.
So once the lockout will be over, will you return to the NHL as soon as possible?
AO: "Certainly. I am very comfortable in Moscow, Russia in general, but my soul is across the ocean, in the NHL, with Washington Capitals, with whom I still hope to win the Stanley Cup.
"Alas, every week, even every day and hour, the hope that the NHL lockout will be solved, is decreasing."
But what about all the happy talk about playing in Russia?
Igor Fein, the reporter, asked Ovechkin:
AO: "Well, if we keep in mind some of the nuances.
"First of all, I was able to celebrate my birthday at home in September for the first time in many years. And we celebrated it quietly, calmly, without any decorations, without no photo shoots on Twitter and Facebook, no pop stars. Only close friends, mom, dad, brother. We had traditional shashlyki (barbecue) at our dacha in the country, the weather was nice and quiet chill-out. The last time I had such a thrill was in 2004, when I turned 19. And today I am 27 years old!
"Secondly, I celebrated my mother's birthday on November 21. And, finally, there was hope that our union leader Donald Fehr will withstand the pressure of the opponents and protect the players. Money for me is not the most important thing, but why should I feed the bosses of the NHL and clubs with sweat and blood-earned dollars?"
"Money for me is not the most important thing." Of course not. It wasn't important when the KHL bent its rules to make sure he received something close to his NHL salary. Obviously this contract isn't a reason his "soul" is back in the NHL. Nope. Not important at all.
Glad to hear Ovechkin has come off his stance that he may not return to the NHL. Not that it was ever a threat, mind you, but it was still irksome to hear a player whose global celebrity is owed to the NHL failing to appreciate that the League, despite its failings in labor relations, is still the pinnacle for pro hockey.