Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has made it very clear that he wants to play for his home nation in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Now, just days after it was announced that he would be a torchbearer for the games, it appears that the star left winger will get his wish.
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis announced that he would be allowing Ovechkin to play in the Olympics whether or not the NHL plans to allow all players play in the games.
“I said this before. It’s a players league. If the union and the players demand and really want to go to the Olympics, then we should let them,” Leonsis said, via the Washington Post. “I think it’s great for the league, but the players should drive that and they have the union to do that in discussions. It was never brought up, discussed at all during the [labor] negotiations.
“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. 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.”
Like Ovechkin, many of the league’s top stars are going to attempt to represent their country in the Olympics. Hopefully most owners will take the stance of Leonsis and allow their stars to play.