Photo: Pavel Lysenkov
On Wednesday, Team Russia captain Alex Ovechkin practiced with his team for the first time since suffering a knee injury on Sunday against Germany. Or so we thought!
After he left the ice, Ovechkin spoke to a scrum of reporters and waxed poetic on his injury.”It’s hard to say that I have a knee problem,” Ovechkin said according to R-Sport, confusing everyone. “It’s actually something a bit different.”
When asked if he was planning to wear the custom-made knee brace the Team Russia medical staff ordered for him, Ovechkin seemed unsure. “I am not wearing any brace,” he said. “They brought it to me, but so far I have not tried the magical brace. Let me repeat, it’s not my knee, but different organs and muscles. I skated today, I have some pain, but of course, it is better than it was the first day.”
On Thursday, Team Russia — after going undefeated (7-0) in preliminary play — will face-off against France in the World Championship playoffs. Ovi did not guarantee he would suit up, but sounded somewhat optimistic that he would.
“I feel better, and there is still 24 hours until the game against France,” Ovechkin said. “Will I play? Ask the head coach. Do I feel I am ready to play? When you come out [to play], you have to be completely ready. There are some nuances, we’ll discuss.”
According to Alexei Shevchenko of Sportbox.ru, Ovechkin was even stronger with his comments saying, “if I practice, I can play, too.”
Ovechkin also talked about the hit that injured him. While Germany’s Markus Kink was not penalized during the game, he was later suspended for a game by the IIHF. This came after Hockey Federation of Russia wrote a ridiculous statement calling the hit a “blatant foul” and questioning the referees’ intentions.
Ovi did not agree with the Federation. “The hit in my opinion was a clean one, I just did not get out of the way in time,” he said. “If I kept going straight, everything could have turned out differently. Why did I not take the hit directly? If I get by him, I have a breakaway.”
While Caps fans seem worried that if Ovechkin plays again in the tournament he may risk serious injury, the Russian machine seemed less concerned.
“If I did not feel that I am ready to help the team, I wouldn’t be trying,” Ovechkin said. “I would end my season. As long as I am able to help, I will act.”
Translation by Igor Kleyner.