Beginning on Sunday, NHL players were free to sign with foreign clubs. Most have headed for Russia, Norway, Finland or Sweden, among others, while others have stayed and practiced with teammates or headed for the AHL.
One of the first players to bolt overseas was Alex Ovechkin. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise. You knew with this cloud of the NHL lockout hanging over the league for weeks, clubs in Russia were already gearing up to bring in one of their national heroes.
Ovechkin signed a deal with the Moscow Dynamo, spurning CSKA, who several other NHL players have already signed with, to sign with Moscow.
The move isn’t surprising in itself, but the fact that Ovechkin could be ready to make this more of a permanent situation is. At least, that’s what could happen, according to the Washington Capitals captain.
From a Russian news agency:
“As to the future, it will depend on what kind of conditions there will be in the NHL with the new CBA,” Ovechkin said. “If our contracts get slashed, I will have to think whether to return there or not. I won’t rule out staying in the KHL, even past this season.”
Now, who really knows how far out of context this could have been taken. But you know since it’s Ovechkin, these comments will be talked about over here for quite some time. The question is whether or not this is a threat that the league should actually take seriously.
The answer to that question is very likely no. I view this as nothing more than posturing on the part of Ovechkin, as he’s been one of the players attending negotiations during this entire disastrous process.
Of course, aside from the fact that this is likely a negotiating tactic, look no further than the possible ramifications for Ovechkin and the KHL, should he choose to remain in Russia. We’re talking about contract violations on the parts of both Ovechkin and the KHL, if Russia were to keep one of the league’s biggest stars.
In the end, this is just a negotiating tactic. I, in no way, feel that the Dynamo are a threat to keep Ovechkin around once the lockout does come to an end–whether it’s in November 2012 or at some point at the end of 2013.