We learned three years ago that Alex Ovechkin would be Official Ambassador and torchbearer for the upcoming Sochi Olympics. A centerpiece of the campaign to promote the Games, Ovechkin wields more star power than his peers– as evidenced, for example, by his Twitter feed featured prominently on the Sochi 2014 website— so it makes sense they would want his help sooner rather than later.

With the opening ceremonies just five months out, the next big promotional push is the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic torch. Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee President Dmitry Chernyshenko says he will have Alex Ovechkin there. In Greece. At the end of September.

Right as the NHL season begins.

Chernyshenko spoke to the Russian sports news agency R-Sport about the upcoming event:

On September 29th we will light up the torch in Olympia, and for the next week it will travel through Greece; on October 6th we will deliver it to Moscow – and then promptly to the Red Square. There will be many interesting events. Who will be the first Russian [to carry the torch] in Greece, and who will be the first on Red Square? That is a secret, intrigue, and we will try to keep it until the end. But they will be people who are recognized and loved by everybody.

Will Ovechkin be among them? Nothing can be hidden from you! It is true; Ovechkin will participate in the Greek part of the torch relay, but will he be the first carrier or not – I will not tell you right now.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the Sochi organizers want Ovechkin to participate in the torch relay. It is, however, somewhat puzzling that they seem so assured of his participation considering the lighting ceremony will take place just two days before the opening game of the Capitals 2013-14 season.

The Capitals organization clarified its position to RMNB via email:

The Russian Federation has expressed interest in having Alex participate in the daylong opening ceremony in Greece. We are still in the early stages of the process and are working through the logistics but the decision has not yet been made with respect to his participation.

So will Ovechkin make a dash across the Atlantic– a 10+ hour trip each way, racking up 11,000 frequent flyer miles–  to participate in an Olympic promotion just as his team prepares to face off against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks on national TV?

We’ll see. In hindsight, these sorts of conflicts were inevitable.

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  • Eric

    what should he do

  • his dharma

  • yv

    While a big supporter of Ovi, I think Caps should say definite NO for this. His role is to win his first Olympic gold medal in Sochi, not to run ‘Greek marathon’ with a torch and leave team in the middle of crucial preparations for the season. Russia has hundreds Olympic gold medalists, many legendary ones including hockey players, who can do the honors.

  • Adam Schwager

    We remeber how he played in the season opener after jetlag last year

  • Yo8

    I agree. Russia has many Olympic champions from the last 20 years and Soviet years so Ovi can dish one. He can do this when he is retired with a cup and gold medal at least.

  • Fletch

    Caps need to say no here. Season is about to start and his obligations are with the Caps, not team Russia. I hear Ilya Kovalchuk is available.

  • Fedor

    No, he has a regular season game on 9/29.

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  • Hockey Mom

    This is something that the NHL should nip in the bud across the board. The contracts should have some sort of clause indicating that players cannot participate in any non-team (the team that they are played to play for) event 2 weeks prior to and 2 weeks following their team’s season. This would eliminate a lot of the speculation about players loyalty to their teams. Just my thoughts.

  • Hockey Mom

    sorry should be the team that they are PAID to play for!