Melnyk might risk Karlsson at Olympics, if he was Canadian

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OTTAWA, ON – OCTOBER 17: <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/teams/ott/" data-ylk="slk:Ottawa Senators">Ottawa Senators</a> owner Eugene Melnyk high-fives fans as he walks down the red carpet before the home opener against the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/teams/njd/" data-ylk="slk:New Jersey Devils">New Jersey Devils</a> at Canadian Tire Centre on October 17, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON – OCTOBER 17: Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk high-fives fans as he walks down the red carpet before the home opener against the New Jersey Devils at Canadian Tire Centre on October 17, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Sportsnet gave viewers an appetizer of an interview with Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk set to air on Sunday.

As is customary when with an NHL owner, a reporter is required to ask about the Olympics. Ted Leonsis made headlines a few weeks back by giving his players permission to go play in PyeongChang even if the NHL decided not to participate.

On giving Erik Karlsson the same permission to go play for Sweden during the season, Melnyk replied in the most Eugene Melnyk way possible:

So I’m going to give Sweden my best player at the risk of him being injured. Beating our Canadian team. That doesn’t make sense. Maybe if it was a Canadian going to play for Canada… maybe. But right now it doesn’t make any sense for our franchise, or it’s not fair to our fans, if we were to lose him god forbid in a year like this, to an injury in the Olympics.

Let’s recap: if Karlsson were Canadian, Melnyk might take the risk.

It’s completely possible the Senators owner was attempting to be glib with the Canadian comment, but c’mon son, this is Eugene Melnyk. He also implies the Swedes would beat the Canadians with Karlsson. That’s a debate for another day, though.

Bottom line: the idea of Karlsson going remains a ‘flat no,’ as Melnyk said to the Ottawa Citizen on Friday.

When Sportsnet spoke to Karlsson before the game on Saturday he said, “I really want to go [to the Olympics], and feel that all the players do, too.”

Should the NHL decide not to go to PyeongChang, it’ll be fascinating to see how many players defy their owners and go anyway.

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter!

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