Alex Ovechkin finally conceded that he won’t be playing in the 2018 Olympics.
The Washington Capitals star released a statement on Thursday criticizing the NHL over its decision to keep players out of the Olympics, saying that nobody benefits from the decision.
Reports in April said the NHL had agreed with its owners that the three-week break needed for the Olympics would not be beneficial for the league. Several players criticized the decision, though Ovechkin was the holdout, maintaining he would play if he was asked to.
However, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported that deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the International Ice Hockey Federation told the NHL that it would not accept any players currently under contract with the NHL. Ovechkin said he was disappointed in the NHL, IOC, and IIHF for its decision.
“I see the news this week and I am very disappointed that IOC, IIHF and NHL put me and all NHL players in this position when some of the best players in world do not have chance to play in Olympic Games,” Ovechkin said. “This is not just about me but all NHL players who want to play and have a chance to win Gold for their country.”
Ovechkin added: “NHL players in the Olympics is good for hockey and good for Olympics. It sucks that we will not be there to play!!”
Other players also expressed disappointment. According to the Associated Press, Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues said: “You want something for all your life and then some guys just take it away without obvious reasons. If it’s reasons, it’s money, but a lot of players want to be there.”
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said in February that he wouldn’t stop Ovechkin if he had expressed desire to play in the Olympics. The decision from the IIHF obviously ends that speculation. Ovechkin thanked Leonsis in his statement for his support.
Read Ovechkin’s statement below:
Alex Ovechkin's Olympic statement released by Capitals: pic.twitter.com/7frhnNZlsS
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) September 15, 2017