Capitals Insider, Oct. 4, 2009:
Slava Malamud talks with Tatiana Ovechkina:
"How can [Commissioner Gary] Bettman not let them play?" fumed Ovechkin's mother, Tatyana, in a recent conversation with me. "Doesn't he understand what Olympics are? Let him read books! Let him study history! They stopped wars in ancient Greece for the Olympics. Wars! And he can't stop his league for two weeks? This is nonsense!"
...hmmm... You can't beat it... or can you?
Slava goes on and interviews Ted Leonsis:
This being an Olympic year, do you have any concerns about the team breaking its momentum or the Russians getting worn out?
I haven't even thought about it. If it [does happen], what are you going to do? They have got to play in the Olympics and [even though] we don't want to get them hurt, all the great players will be there; we are all in the same boat.
What is your position on the Olympics, looking ahead to Sochi in 2014?
It's a players' league, you know, and the players want to do it. And they should have a strong voice. We will support them, but if I were a player, I would be asking, 'Where is all that money going?' Somebody is getting paid billions and billions of dollars and the players aren't, the league is not. ...
It puts a lot of the people who are employed by our buildings out of work because people are paid by the game and by the day. And one day, someone is going to lose a great player. Even though we have insurance, if someone suffers a career-ending injury and can't sign that next contract, people will start to think twice. So, I don't think it's that clear of an answer as: 'I love my country; I want to go play.'
With the new collective bargaining agreement coming, you know it's going to be an issue, and you will have a vote on it. You know Ovechkin's position. Taking all this into consideration, which way are you leaning?
Why do I have to answer [about] something that is five years from now?
The CBA is up two years from now.
Yes, so let the players organize and come to us with the things that are important to them. But there will have to be a trade-off. If that's really, really important to them, fine, but it costs us a lot of money. So we are going to get something back.
Look, I've got Alex's back, but I've sat down and tried to explain to Alex: 'The Olympics are going to market around you. It's billions of dollars! Billions with a B! The NHL doesn't get a penny, the KHL doesn't get a penny, the players don't get a penny.'
At some point, with the players so driven by dollars, they will get it. Someone is making a lot of money, and it's not us. So, I don't think it's that easy to say: 'It's in Russia, it's in Vancouver, we should play.' But, if the players want something, they usually get what they want. I just think they need to think it through.
Slava: "Leonsis ended the interview by playfully growling, 'Don't ask me any more questions about the Olympics again!' Something tells me this will not be a request I can meet."
You'd better take it serious, Slava. :-) Or there's a certain example out there already.