Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ovechkin to play in AHL with Hershey?

Anarchy Means I Litter
Alexander Ovechkin playing against Avangard Omsk in the Russian Super League

Unlikely, but...

According to a report today in Sport Express, the Washington Capitals may try to prevent superstar forward Alexander Ovechkin from representing Russia at the upcoming IIHF World Championships in Riga, Latvia.

The World Championship tournament, which was held in Austria last year and was won by the Czech Republic, doesn't start until May 5th. By that time, Ovechkin's NHL season would be long since over, since the Capitals won't be making the playoffs. Ovechkin has made it known that he would like to play for Russia in the tournament, and in fact has already booked a plane flight to Moscow for April 25th, according to the Sport Express article.

The Captials GM, George McPhee, is quoted by Sport Express as saying, "We have thought about that (keeping Ovechkin here), but first of all we have to speak to the player."

From the article:

It seems in Washington they are far from enthusiastic about their young star participating in the World Championships. They would prefer that Ovechkin rests, after an especially long season due to the Olympics.

There are several ways that the Capitals GM could keep Ovechkin in the States. One would be to send Ovechkin to the AHL, where the Capitals' farm club, the Hershey Bears, will begin their playoffs soon. This was tried six years ago, in Buffalo with Maxim Afinogenov, but Afinogenov insisted on leaving the AHL and nevertheless went to the World Championships. The possibility of an AHL demotion, to put it mildly, is unlikely in Ovechkin's case.

The other way would be for the club to put pressure on Ovechkin, and through conversations, force Ovechkin to change his plans. In McPhee's statement to Sport Express, made through the Capitals' press agent, McPhee said, "We have no desire to comment now on the situation with the World Championships. This situation is of interest to us, but we first must discuss this with Ovechkin. After the season is over, we will meet with him and have a talk regarding this matter."

Since the Russian Hockey Federation did not sign the player transfer agreement with the NHL, the Russian players who are in the NHL do not have a formal right to play for the national team. This is in contrast with the other European countries, whose participation in the World Championships is provided for in the agreement.

A similar situation to Ovechkin's was encountered recently, when the New York Islanders did not let Denis Grebeshkov go to the Russian team, instead sending him to their farm team with the explanation, "in view of the absence of an agreement between Russia and the NHL."

Most likely, this situation will cause the process between Russia and the NHL to be renewed. It has become known that the Russian Hockey Federation's Mikhail Margelov will be in America on April 26th to meet with the Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman, and the President of the IIHF, Rene Fasel. Also, when the new RHF President is selected on April 25th, there will be a general meeting among the Russian clubs to decide if they will hold their current position, or make concessions in regards to player transfers with the NHL. According to what Sport Express has learned, Commissioner Bettman is ready to sanction the admittance of Russian players to the Riga World Championships, even without an agreement with the RHF, but this is likely to involve reciprocal steps from the side of Russia.


Anonymous Zircon encrusted tweezers said...

See the man is always trying to keep us down!

4/14/06, 6:26 PM

Blogger Brushback said...

Any more Zappa references outta you, and I'm sending you over to Hockey Rodent.

4/14/06, 11:02 PM

Blogger Brushback said...

Meanwhile, Sidney Crosby has confirmed that he'll play for Team Canada in Riga.

Crosby confirms entry at IIHF Worlds

Pittsburgh Penguins rookie Sidney Crosby confirmed Thursday that he will play for Team Canada at the 2006 IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Crosby has said for weeks he expected to play in the tournament, which begins May 5 in Latvia.

"I don't really know any of the details. I was just asked if I was interested in playing," Crosby told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

Let Ovechkin go, so he can out-play Crosby again.

4/15/06, 10:03 AM


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