Carolina forward Andrei Svechnikov said Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin challenged him to the Game 3 fight Monday that knocked out the Hurricanes rookie and put him in the NHL’s concussion protocol. Ovechkin previously had said it was Svechnikov who asked to fight.
At Saturday’s morning skate before Game 5, Svechnikov spoke with reporters for the first time since the fight and said he was “not a superhero [to] ask first for fight. I said yes. I just want to stand up for myself.” Svechnikov said the fight ensued because it was just “back and forth” all series; nothing from the regular season led to the two dropping their gloves.
According to Svechnikov, Ovechkin, who had only been in three career fights, called him after the game to apologize “a little bit."
“I said sometimes it happen,” Svechnikov said. “You never know.”
Each player has now claimed that the other challenged him to fight. Each coach also has backed his respective player’s versions of how the fight started.
“First of all, I hope he’s okay,” Ovechkin said after Game 3. “He asked me to fight, I said, ‘Let’s go, yeah.’ So, I hope he’s okay. You don’t want to see a guy get hurt or something.”
Svechnikov, who did not play in Thursday’s Game 4, participated in the Hurricanes’ morning skate Saturday at Capital One Arena in a yellow, noncontact jersey and with a full face cage mask. He was put in the concussion protocol following Game 3, but as of Saturday, he said he felt “pretty good” and hopes to play in Game 6 on Monday at Carolina.
Carolina Coach Rod Brind’Amour was noncommittal about the timetable of Svechnikov’s return, other than that he is “coming along really well.” Svechnikov had 20 goals and 17 assists during the regular season.
“So, until they tell me that it’s even a possibility, I’m just going on as if he won’t be [ready to play],” Brind’Amour said.