Photo: R-Sport

On Saturday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin participated in Ilya Kovalchuk’s charity hockey game, “From Pure Heart.” Also at the game was KHL president Alexander Medvedev.

A member of Sport-Express’s sports department caught up with Medvedev, asking a bunch of questions about the charity game and the KHL. At the end of their conversation, the interviewer asked a rote question about when Ovechkin and other Russian NHL stars might leave North America and come back home.

Medvedev’s answer was portentous.

Igor Kleyner has your translation.

When are we going to see [Ovechkin and Malkin] on KHL rinks, not just for a preseason charity game?

Alexander Medvedev: “Are you talking about [Ovechkin and Malkin] returning to the KHL? Next season there may be pleasant surprises. Let’s wait.”

Former Red Wing Slava Fetisov later expanded on Medvedev’s comments while speaking to Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov. Fetisov is a prominent member of Putin’s United Russia political party and the Russian Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russian Legislature.

Medvedev mentioned the possibility of Ovechkin and Malkin returning to the KHL: “Expect surprises the next season.” Is it realistic, considering the political situation?

Slava Fetisov: “This is not an easy situation. Although I never imagined that athletes would be discriminated against during political confrontations. But yesterday I talked to Sasha Ovechkin. He had a picture taken holding a sign “Save children from fascism” and right away he got a lot of retweets as if he were supporting Putin.

The way I understand, fascism was denounced by modern humanity a long time ago. As a fact. How can you connect one to another? I am beginning to be concerned how Ovechkin will be received in America. Although I believe that sport is the only thing that can unite people today. Our guys from the NHL are ambassadors promoting our way of life.

Everybody portrays Russia as the aggressor. But even in hockey, an aggressive sport, we have always played in a more artistic way than anybody else.

I think Malkin and Ovechkin should play in the NHL. There is a conversation. But I don’t know how realistic it would be to take all our stars back from there.”

Oh god, not again.

These comments come one year after Dynamo Moscow general director Andrey Safronov talked about looking for a way to get Ovechkin to return to his Russian team.

“Ovechkin has a current contract with the Capitals,” Safronov was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS. “Can we try to pull him out? We’ll talk, we’ll look at each other and will have some result. Right now all Russian national team players want to come back to their homeland.”

When Ovechkin returned to America for training camp a year ago, the Caps captain brushed away Safronov’s comments. The political situation has changed a lot in a year.

Russia is currently being sanctioned by the United States and the European Union for its role in Ukraine. Late last week, Ovechkin showed support towards Russian president Vladimir Putin and his actions in Ukraine with an Instagram photo.

The KHL’s Memorandum of Understanding agreement with the NHL ends on June 30, 2015. What happens after that is anybody’s guess.

  • Anastasia Fisher

    Stop it Russia, Ovie is ours (for now).

  • GraboviMyBozak

    If he were to leave, would you guys still love him? I think this is all talk but it could happen.

  • GetchaGrubbOn

    Chill, Rooskie.

  • ThrowmetheWHIP

    I agree ovi will bring pleasant surprises, but I don’t think it’s gonna relate to the KHL, Mr. Medvedev

  • This is sort of a tough story to nail down; Ian and Igor did a great job with it. We’ve heard this kind of blowhard talk from the KHL bosses before. That’s nothing new. The weird thing is how the political situation (“stick to hockey!”) and the looming end of the memo of understanding will affect things.

    In conclusion, I have no idea what to make of it overall and I have wasted your time in reading this comment.

  • Sage Confucius

    Putin is old school KGB. I don’t know how much power he has over athletes today, but Soviet Russia was much different. In the short period between not being allowed to play outside the USSR, and being allowed to play but having to give most of your earnings to the government, is when a lot of the Russians finally were able to come to the NHL. It makes me wonder if Putin is pressuring them to stay at home by offering them special treatment. Perhaps he even wants things back the way they were with the athletes giving much of their earnings to the government.
    This is all supposition, of course, but I can remember the Cold War athletes of the 70’s and 80’s. It wasn’t pretty.

  • NovaCath

    So is the surprise going to be the mysterious military obligations that can be satisfied by playing hockey for certain teams as was done to Semin after the 2004-2005 lockout?

  • Deals for marquee players are already really cushy over there. McPhee said Kuznetsov was making $10M on his contract under the table.

  • Yo8

    Isn’t just like a year or two when turning 18 or after graduation? And didn’t Ovi go to military school (I’m not sure) and skipped this?

  • Ash

    Eh. You know how I know the offseason has begun? Ovi usually shows up somewhere shirtless and dancing. You know how I know hockey season is close to beginning? Someone in the media starts one of the classic Ovi arguments: he’s gonna bolt for the KHL, he should have the C stripped, he doesn’t have enough heart, blah blah blah.

    It’s as inevitable and predictable and ultimately meaningless (if kinda fun sometimes, with the dancing!) a cycle as the groundhog popping up to see his shadow. I choose to see this as nothing more than a sign that, hey, real hockey is getting close to starting again!

    (Which is not to say Ian and Igor didn’t do a good job on the story; they did. Just that I’m going to la-la-la my way past Medevev’s words like I’m Erik Karlsson on twitter.)

  • Catherine__M

    This whole thing reminds me of Carly Simon….trotting out vague references to something of marginal importance/ liklihood of happening in an annual desperate attempt to appear relevant.

  • Yo8

    They make too little compare to other rich Russians who do what Putin wants or else so I don’t see the point in doing that. Bringing the players back to Russia would be more of a patriotic and nationalistic propaganda opportunity.

  • Yo8

    “The way I understand, fascism was denounced by modern humanity a long time ago.” What organization is he talking about?

  • Luke Anthony

    They’ve been saying this for years now. The only big players to do it were Kovulchuk and Radulov (who nobody wanted anyways). Also don’t see how politics comes into this, Alex has been in the United States for almost a decade, I doubt he’ll be viewed differently unless he starts talking about it and becomes a preacher (and based on how he’s dealt with things in the past, he won’t).


    This heartless player will never be able to win the S CUP because he cares only to play only for RUSHIST team . Please let him go home and be close with his friend PUTLER ! ! ! He is not good for NHL …..


    CAPITALS FAN • 2 minutes ago

    This heartless player will never be able to win the S CUP because he cares only to play for RUSHIST team . Please let him go home and be close with his friend PUTLER ! ! ! He is not good for NHL …..

  • OvechkinFiresAndScores08

    “capitals fan”

  • Sarah

    Caps lock fan, anyway


    Please let him go home and be close with his friend PUTLER ! ! ! He is not good for NHL …..

  • Graham Dumas

    Actual LOL.

  • Jonah

    shut up

  • Seth Malaguerra

    First off, the Ukraine is weak and must be crushed.
    Second, is there any chance he’ll take Brooks Orpik with him?
    Third, boy I sure wish it was hockey season so we could talk about actual hockey.

  • Diller M

    Not as badly as my time was wasted on Saturday afternoon in College Park!!! I didn’t see you there Peter 🙁 Although I did see a JMU student draining the lizard in front of a shuttle bus full of people.

  • Diller M

    This comment makes very little sense.

  • Diller M


  • Mat

    Good, don’t come back.

  • Yo8

    I think is Mat in disguise LOL

  • Yo8

    LOL he is coming back and I’m sure many people want him back.

  • Andrew Walker

    This guy’s not careful, he’s gonna end up a series of dramatic readings.

  • Andrew Walker

    Ovie cares more than for rushist team, he also cares for soldiers and little boys and girls who do not money good.. This is having a BIG HEART, which is very good for NHL, because having no heart makes you VERY SICK. Also. Capitals are NOT RUSHIST. They HATE RUSHISM.


    I love Cups but very disappointed with Ovechkin !

  • Andrew Walker
  • Harjot Singh

    Its a shame how politics get involved in hockey

  • Anastasia Fisher

    ……… okay