Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis will allow Alex Ovechkin to attend the 2014 Sochi Olympics next season, even if the NHL has not come to an agreement to allow its players to participate in the games,according to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post.
With the NHL lockout in the rear-view mirror and a new collective bargaining agreement signed and dated, the NHLPA and league will now turn their attention to the next major hurdle in the tenuous partnership. The 2014 Sochi Olympics are just over one year away and with the league focused on getting this season underway, discussion regarding whether NHL players will be allowed to attend has been pushed back.
Ovechkin, who will be a torchbearer for his home country, has stated several times in the past that he'll be appearing in the Olympics regardless of whether the NHL allows him to or not. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis agrees that Ovechkin deserves to play and says he'll allow his star forward to attend the Olympics next season, regardless of what the NHL and NHLPA agree to.
"If they don't and Alex still wants to go to the Olympics, I'm going to be honest, I'm going to let him go," Leonsis said."I just think it's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing for him to have something played in Russia. He's going to be a torchbearer and it's very important to him and his family. Who am I to get in the way of him wanting to fulfill that? And I know that's a slippery slope because if Nick [Backstrom] says then he wants to play for Sweden, we'll have to cross that bridge when we get to it. But I think that I'm going to lean to the side of the players in that one."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has expressed concern with allowing its players to play in the Olympics, stating that the league receives no benefit from shutting the season down every four seasons and risking injuries to the NHL's best players.
The 2014 Winter Games will be held in Sochi, Russia from Feb. 7 to Feb. 23, 2014.