Alex Ovechkin jokes with fellow Russian Dimity Orlov Tuesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
Resplendent in his finest Nike-provided fashions, Alex Ovechkin faced the media for the first time this season at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday. Gathered in front of a phalanx of sports reporters still sleep-deprived from last night’s Redskins game, Ovi answered questions about his rather eventful — not in good way — last couple of weeks.
In late August, an executive for Dynamo Moscow, Ovechkin’s former team, said he wanted Ovi to bolt to Russia á la Ilya Kovalchuk — even if he had a contract with the Capitals. While fanciful, it’s not a comfortable idea for the Caps and the $123 million they’ve invested in Ovechkin.
Ovi, though, brushed that idea aside.
“The answer is I’m here,” Ovechkin told reporters. “I have a contract.”
“I love Dynamo, it’s my first team and play when there was lockout, but I have a contract so I have to play here,” he went on. “I respect my teammates. I respect the fans.”
Ovechkin did, however, think there was a double standard when it came to players breaking their contracts.
“I respect every player,” he said. “They have own life. … Some American guy goes to KHL and after two months they say I want to cancel my contract and go back. Why nobody put pressure on him?”
Then, it was time for Ovi to talk about the ceremony to light the Olympic torch, which he’s scheduled to attend. It’s happening in Greece on September 29th, just a few days before the Capitals take the ice for the season opener and only thing yet to be worked out are his travel arrangements.
Ovi is an official ambassador for the games, so naturally the organizers feel he has an obligation to be there. Of course, the Great Eight has another important obligation: the Washington Capitals. Ovi insisted, however, that the torch lighting would not interfere with his play.
“I just fly to Greece and go back,” he said. “That’s the most important thing. I don’t want to miss the games.”
“It’s a huge honor for me,” Ovechkin added of his Olympic role. “I talked to Capitals organization, I talked to my teammates, and I explained everything. Only once in your life opportunity.”