Alex Ovechkin has made clear that, despite the World Cup of Hockey, he still intends to play in the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. But what if the NHL does not participate in the Olympics? Just how the league will handle the Russian superstar walking away from the league for two weeks during the season, however, remains to be seen.
The prospect for NHL participation in the 2018 Olympics is bleak. The IOC has declared it will no longer pay for NHL players' travel and insurance costs. Given that the NHL does not like closing down the season for a tournament they have no financial stake in, this could prove to be the death knell for Olympic participation.
Ovechkin, however, has already drawn his line in the sand.
"It's a situation when you don't know what's going to happen," Ovechkin said. "Obviously, I said I'm going to play."
Greg Wyshynski of the Yahoo blog Puck Daddy asked deputy commissioner Bill Daly how the NHL would respond.
“I don’t have a league reaction to that," Daly said. "If that became a prevailing view of a group of players, or a significant group of players, I might have a different view. But at this point it’s a single superstar player who will have a contract with one of clubs, and the club will handle that within its own discretion."
Ovechkin has always been very vocal about his love of representing his country and he made the same declaration prior to the Sochi Olympics. If the NHL is hoping he will be the only one to take such a vocal stance, however, they are sadly mistaken.
Mike Babcock: "The World Cup is great, but it's not the Olympics. Let's not get confused."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 27, 2016
RELATED: Camp cuts looming for Capitals
The Capitals are expected to make their first round of training camp cuts later this week.
The cuts, according to associate coach Todd Reirden, will be made after Thursday’s intrasquad scrimmage or Friday—the team’s first off day since players reported last Thursday.
“That’s our plan as of right now,” Reirden said.
There were 58 players in camp on Tuesday, including six goalies. That number, however, will grow in the coming days as more World Cup of Hockey participants trickle back into town. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov will return to Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday, while Nicklas Backstrom will rejoin his teammates on Thursday. Goaltenders Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer won't be far behind; the last possible day for the World Cup is Saturday.
After playing in Montreal tonight, the Capitals are scheduled to practice Wednesday and Thursday in Arlington and travel to Bridgeport, Conn., on Saturday to face the Islanders in preseason game No. 3.