Claims he and many others will simply not return to the NHL
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/08/2012 -- Alex Ovechkin has noted that if salaries are slashed, as they have been rumored to be, in the wake of ongoing labor negotiations between players and owners, he may decide not to return to the NHL. He also notes he is certainly not the only player who would not be interested in returning if he and others do not feel they are receiving a fair shake in the deal.
“Of course, I said it before, before I sign contract, that if the league decides to cut our salaries, cut our contracts for what they want, I don’t know how many guys are coming back,” the Washington Capitals’ star left wing said Wednesday during a conference call with the Washington Post and the Washington Times. “We sign contract before. Why they have to cut our salary and our contracts right now? They sign us. [Now they] want to cut it. I think it’s a stupid idea and stupid decision by NHL, [Commissioner Gary] Bettman and the guys who work there.”
Ovechkin signed with the KHL Dynamo Moscow for a one-year deal that is reported around $6 million dollars. His signing made him the 45 NHL player to sign to a European club up to September 19. Ovechkin has been one of the most outspoken players in voicing his opinions regarding the NHL labor negotiations.
Ovechkin told a Russian news agency that he would consider playing full time in Russia if part of the possible NHL agreement significantly reduced players’ salaries.
“If our contracts get slashed, I will have to think whether to return there or not. I won’t rule out staying in the KHL, even past this season,” Ovechkin said, as translated by Slava Malamud of Sport-Express.
His current contract with the Capitals is for nine years and $88 million dollars. He can play elsewhere during a lockout but is obligated to return if the season resumes. That stipulation is true for all NHLPA constituents, and they are aware of any attempt to avoid such a rule.
Ovechkin would be in violation of the rule if he refuses to return for the season if it were to begin again. There would be considerable sanctions from the International Ice Hockey Federation as well, which would also lead to players being kept out of the Olympics.
The concept of Ovechkin leaving would cause a large sweeping statement, and subsequent storm of seething anger from both sides of the argument. Still, Ovechkin is clear that he and other players simply want to play the game they love.
“It’s no secret our job is in NHL and right now we don’t have a job, so we just decide to come play in KHL [in] Russia,” Ovechkin said. “It was hard decision for me, first of all, to decide to come play in Russia because [of] insurance. I had to sign one-year deal, and it’s a lots of risk, but again, for me, everybody wants to play hockey.
“It’s not us who stop the NHL, it’s the league stop the NHL. Bettman and the owners stop NHL,” Ovechkin continued. “They don’t play hockey, they don’t block the shots, they don’t fight, they don’t get hit. They just sit in a box and enjoy the hockey.”
“Our job to play hockey,” Ovechkin said. “Of course it’s hard for somebody who can’t play [overseas]. But I don’t think somebody’s gonna be [angry] or not because they have small kids and I think they’re just gonna spend time with the family, play golf and do something.”
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