Alex Ovechkin may have signed a deal to play for the KHL’s Dynamo Moscow during the lockout, but that hasn’t prevented the star winger from continuing to voice his concerns about the NHL labor negotiations.
On Wednesday, Ovechkin spoke with a Russian news agency about his new contract and said he would consider staying in his home country full time if player salaries are cut dramatically in the next collective bargaining agreement.
“I knew that Dynamo was interested in me, as my Russia-based representative had immediately told me that,” Ovechkin said, as translated by Malamud. “But we had already promised CSKA to only negotiate with them. But then, there was a small snag. We asked [CSKA] whether we can start negotiating with someone else. In the end, we started making contact with Dynamo and reached an agreement.
“As to the future, it will depend on what kind of conditions there will be in the NHL with the new CBA,” Ovechkin said. “If our contracts get slashed, I will have to think whether to return there or not. I won’t rule out staying in the KHL, even past this season.”
Keep in mind that this may all be posturing on Ovechkin’s part, given the state of the NHL’s labor talks. But at the same time, he hasn’t shied away from strong statements about the negotiations and this isn’t the first time he’s floated the possibility of players staying overseas if the NHL cuts player salaries.
Ovechkin, like all NHLers who sign overseas during the lockout, has an out clause in his contract that allows them to return to North America whenever the NHL season starts up again.
If Ovechkin were to stay in Russia whenever the NHL resumes, he would be in violation of his contract with the Capitals, which runs through the 2020-21 season. The breach of contract would also go against the agreement between the NHL and KHL about honoring each other’s player contracts, would bring sanctions from the IIHF and likely lead to the NHL saying its players can’t participate in the Olympics.
That should give you an idea of the can of worms that would open up if players were to violate their NHL contracts. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but it would certainly be a dramatic course of action.