TORONTO – Washington Capitals sniper Alexander Ovechkin says he wants a meeting of NHL players to talk about participating in the 2014 Olympics.
“Everybody wants to go over there. The Russians want to go for sure over there,” he said of the Games in Sochi, Russia. “(Ilya) Kovalchuk, (Evgeni) Malkin, I know that.”
The NHL, however, is not committed to having its players take part in the Games past 2010.
Ovechkin was speaking Thursday at an event at the Hockey Hall of Fame to publicize the “NHL 2K10” video game, which features the Russian star on its cover.
He wasn’t backing off comments Wednesday that he planned to play in the 2014 Games whether the league sanctions his participation or not.
“It’s what I want and what I’m going to do,” he said.
Some league owners reportedly are not in favour of having the league shut down during the Olympics. But Ovechkin says the players are the ones taking a hit these days.
“I think right now we’re losing money, not the NHL,” he said.
Asked what he meant, Ovechkin replied “escrow,” referring to money taken out of the players’ paycheques to ensure that the NHLPA-NHL split of league revenues is as mandated in the collective bargaining agreement.
Last year’s leading goal-scorer also wants some answers about the NHL Players’ Association’s recent decision to fire executive director Paul Kelly.
Ovechkin says he wants to talk to Caps player rep Brooks Laich to find out “why it happened.”
Otherwise, the 24-year-old star says he has no other issues with the game.
“It’s pretty cool right now,” he said. “Everything’s OK.”
Ovechkin, who’s due to make US$9 million this season, was all business when it was his turn to play the video game.
“He’s insanely competitive,” said Mike Rhinehart, senior marketing manager for 2K Sports. “We actually gave his some time upstairs in the green room to play the game. He scored a goal and was so excited about it, he celebrated as if he was on the ice.”
Ovechkin is known for his goal celebrations – he scored 56 times last season – and Rhinehart says the game is full of them. They include his famous “hot stick” 50th goal celebration which he recreated for the video game at an outdoor motion capture session on synthetic ice outside of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in June.
“It’s not something that happens to everybody, so you have got to figure out how to make that happen,” Rhinehart said of the in-game celebration.
Ovechkin says he makes up his celebrations as he goes along. There is no pre-planning.
“It’s just natural,” he said.
The Russian was the cover athlete of the rival EA Sports game several years ago, serving as the poster boy for “NHL 07.” The face of the made-in-Canada EA Sports “NHL 10” is Chicago star Patrick Kane, who made headlines recently over an early-morning fracas with a Buffalo cabbie.