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Alex Ovechkin Announces He Won't Play for Team Russia in 2018 Olympics

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2017

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 22: Alex Ovechkin #8 of Team Russia warms up before their game against Team Finland during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at the Air Canada Centre on September 22, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Alex Ovechkin had been doing everything he could to compete in the Olympics for Russia, but he now admits that this dream is dead.

"I said every time I was asked since last Olympics that nobody is going to tell me I can't play because my country was going to be allowed to ask me," Ovechkin said in a statement, per Emily Kaplan of ESPN. "Now the IIHF and NHL say my country is not allowed to ask anybody in the NHL to play and there is nothing to talk about anymore."

The NHL announced in April it would not allow its players to compete in the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.

NHL players had been allowed to compete in the Winter Olympics since 1998, with the league usually adjusting the schedule to create a break. However, the league cited the 17-day break as too much of an inconvenience for teams next season.

Owners also likely aren't thrilled at the possibility of players participating in extra competitions and possibly getting hurt.

When Ovechkin originally planned to go against the NHL's wishes and participate in the Olympics anyway, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said he would allow it.

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"He's given so much to our organization, and I would respect what he wanted to do and be very supportive of him," Leonsis said last December, per Dan Rosen of NHL.com.

The 31-year-old was still hopeful of making the trip to South Korea this summer, but the International Ice Hockey Federation and NHL couldn't come to an agreement to allow players to compete.

Ovechkin has competed at the last three Olympics, failing to bring home a single medal for Russia. He has had more success at the IIHF World Championships, helping his team win gold as recently as 2014. Still, he wants to make at least another appearance in the Olympics.

"NHL players in the Olympics is good for hockey and good for Olympics," he wrote in his statement. "It sucks that will we not be there to play!!"

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