Russia and Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin still plans to play in the 2018 Olympics, despite the NHL’s decision not to have its players participate.
Ovechkin told media in Toronto on Tuesday that he wants to play for his country and has no plan to change his mind on the matter.
“Because it's my country,” Ovechkin said. “I think everybody wants to play there. It's the biggest opportunity in your life to play in the Olympic Games. So, I don't know, somebody [is] going to tell me 'don't go,' I don't care, I just go.”
Ovechkin said he hoped the NHL could work out a deal with scheduling to accommodate players who would otherwise participate in the Winter Games.
Olympic competition takes place in the middle of the NHL season and requires major scheduling changes every four years, including a major break in the schedule that leaves non-Olympic athletes with time on their hands midseason. As a result, there are fewer off-days distributed across the 82-game schedule.
“Again, right now, it's still time to make a decision; you can say whatever, but next year's schedule is not out yet,” Ovechkin added. “So if the schedule is not going to the Olympic Games, then you can see they don't bluff. But again, still long time, still everything can change. But in my mind, like I said already, I'm going. It doesn't matter.”