[Thanks to Dmitry Chesnokov for passing along the following preview of a lengthy Sovetsky Sport interview with Alex Ovechkin that is set to run next week. In this excerpt (published here), Alex talks with Pavel Lysenkov about the fact that Russian players might not be allowed to participate in the winter Olympics in Sochi, an issue we discussed a bit here.]
Alex, which one of the world of hockey trophies are you missing the most? And which one of the ones you have won is the most treasured?
All of my awards are valuable because they were earned with hard work. But the first place I would give to the gold medal from the World Championships in Quebec. What’s missing… I have yet to win the Olympics and the Stanley Cup. It is difficult to compare the two tournaments. You represent your own country at the Winter Games. He Olympic Games take place only once every four years. And it’s not winning, but even attending the Games is a difficult [achievement]. The Stanley Cup – you play 82 games in the regular season. You work as a horse to make the playoffs and work even more once you get there. Completely different priorities. But my goal is to win both of those trophies.
Can you imagine the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman not letting you go to the Sochi Olympics in 2014?
The Games will be held in my homeland. I don’t even want to hear the talks of someone not letting me go to the Olympics. If I don’t make it to Sochi it will be a tragedy for me.
What’s the way out? Are you going to approach the Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and ask for an unpaid month off?
You have to understand that the Sochi Olympics is the question of prestige. It’s the matter of [my] entire life. How can I be forbidden from playing for my country, especially at home? If they want to create and obstacle they why us, Russian NHL players, should participate in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver? It seems that we are raising the ratings of a tournament that will take place in Canada. And they don’t want to let us go to Russia.
What to do?
The decision whether NHL players will participate in [future] Olympics will be taken in 2012, when the league and the NHLPA sign a new CBA. If we are prevented… I won’t understand it. This shouldn’t happen. It is not nice. It is wrong.