The Capitals will allow Alex Ovechkin to take part in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, regardless of whether the NHL permits all of its players to participate in the games, owner Ted Leonsis said Thursday.
Ovechkin, who on Wednesday was named a torchbearer for the Sochi games, has said multiple times that he intends to play in his home country. Leonsis doesn’t intend to stand in the star winger’s way.
Here are Leonsis’s full comments on whether the NHL should allow players to participate in the Olympics.
“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. “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,” Leonsis continued. “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.”