WASHINGTON (AP) - Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin released a statement Thursday night through the NHL team expressing frustration about the league's decision to skip the Olympics.
"I wanted to make this statement so that my words are clear and nobody misunderstands what I am saying," the Russian forward wrote. "The Olympics are in my blood and everybody knows how much I love my country. Ever since I was a kid and all the time I have played in the NHL, NHL players have played in the Olympic Games. We never have to make choice between our team and our country my whole career. I love the Capitals and my teammates here as much as I love my country and I know all the other NHL players feel the same for their teams. We should not have to be in position to make this choice."
The league announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea this winter after participating in five consecutive Olympics. Ovechkin represented Russia in the last three Olympics.
"Our countries are now not allowed to ask us to play in the Olympics," the six-time NHL goals leader wrote. "Me, my teammates and all players who want to go all lose. So do all the fans of hockey with this decision that we are not allowed to be invited. NHL players in the Olympics is good for hockey and good for Olympics. It sucks that will we not be there to play!!"
The 31-year-old Ovechkin had 33 goals and 36 assists in 82 regular-season games last season and added five goals and three assists in 13 playoff games. In 12 NHL seasons, all with the Capitals, he has 558 goals and 477 goals in 921 regular-season games and 46 goals and 44 assists in 97 playoff games.
"My focus as it always is this time of year is on my other dream as a kid, to try to win the Stanley Cup," Ovechkin wrote. "I am excited training camp has started in Washington and the time for talking is done. We just have to go out and do it and I will try my hardest to help my teammates win like I do every year since I came to the NHL."
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