With the 2010 Vancouver Olympics roughly 60 days away, we take a look forward to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. As of now, the NHL and its players have the agreement to play in the Olympics until 2010. The 2014 games will have to be negotiated into the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. NHL poster boy, Alexander Ovechkin, has said that he will play in the 2014 Olympics no matter if there is an agreement with the league or not. He had this to say to Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun of ESPN a few months ago:
"Nobody can say to me, 'You can't play for your country in the Olympic Games.'"
Fast forward to today: Ken Campbell of The Hockey News sat down with Ted Leonsis, and the Capitals owner had this to say about Ovechkin's participation in those Olympics.
“When you have children, the love is unconditional,” Leonsis said. “I know this is really, really important to him and his family, and I view it as my job to create a culture and an atmosphere where he knows that the love is returned. So I always have his back. So I’ve told him, ‘If this is what you want to do, I’m going to do my best to help make it happen.’
“I hope it never comes to the league says no and Alex says he’s going, because I’d probably fly him over myself. He’s very committed and he’s very passionate about it and he’s very committed because we’ve talked about, ‘What happens if you get hurt?’ And he says, ‘Well I could get hurt riding my bike or I could get hurt in practice.’ ”
This puts the NHL in a tough situation, because the owner is going to allow him to play, and Gary Bettman essentially works for the owners. How this plays out in the next CBA talks will come down to how this year's Olympics affects the league and their image.