Updated 5:07 p.m.: Alex Ovechkin has been invited to be the first Russian to carry the Olympic torch after it is lit in Olympia, Greece, on Sept. 29 and as long as travel arrangements can be made that minimize his absence from the Capitals the team will not prevent him from participating.
The torch lighting ceremony comes just two days before Washington opens the regular season at the Chicago Blackhawks, but Ovechkin will not miss any regular season games in order to take part.
“What a huge honor to be the first Russian to carry the torch after it’s lit. We’re just waiting for the Russian Federation to finish logistics, details and obviously timing. Schedule wise it comes at a very difficult time, which he understands,” Coach Adam Oates said. “It’s my understanding he’ll miss one day and will be back in his bed Sunday night [Sept. 29], be here Monday [Sept. 30] morning for practice and then get on our plane and go to Chicago.”
The Capitals wrap up the preseason with back-to-back games before taking a planned off-day on Sept. 29, which is the day Ovechkin would be in Greece. Ovechkin is expected to play in the game at home on Verizon Center against the Flyers on Sept. 27 and will not appear in the final exhibition contest at Chicago a day later.
Earlier Monday President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko, told Russian news outlet R-Sport that Ovechkin’s participation was guaranteed. Our friends over at Russian Machine translated Chernyshenko’s comments, which you can find here.
Both the Capitals and Ovechkin’s IMG representative David Abrutyn stressed, however, that it has not been officially decided that the 27-year-old will take part. At this point it depends on all the logistics being finalized.
“It’s a huge honor but obviously it comes at an awkward time,” Oates said. “He knows that and he stressed that he wants to do it but not if it doesn’t make sense. Obviously a lot of things have to work out for it to happen.”