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Senators owner says he’d ‘maybe’ let Erik Karlsson go to Olympics if he was Canadian

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Eugene Melnyk is afraid of Karlsson getting hurt or beating Team Canada.

Buffalo Sabres v Ottawa Senators Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

The back-and-forth between NHL players and owners about 2018 Olympics participation is just getting heated up, and now the Ottawa Senators’ owner has entered the fray with comments sure to rile some people up.

Eugene Melnyk talked with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman for a segment earlier this week, and the two spoke about the owner’s unwillingness to let players leave for the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next season.

Melnyk said he’d consider letting Karlsson go if he was Canadian.

Sportsnet obtained a quote from Erik Karlsson about the comments, and he simply said, “I really want to go and feel all of the players do, too.”

Sportsnet’s full interview with Melnyk will air later this week.

Panel host Ron MacLean jumped in before changing topics to help clarify Melnyk’s comments. MacLean said that, in his opinion, Melnyk wasn’t being nationalistic but using the “Team Canada” line because he knows it will play better with his Canadian fan base. We tend to believe that, for what it’s worth.

But in this day and age, you can bet those words will spread without context and rub some players and fans the wrong way. In any case, it’s put his captain in an awkward position of having to answer for his owner’s comments in the middle of a playoff stretch run.