Alex Ovechkin showed up at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Tuesday sporting a military-style haircut.
“I’m one of the soldiers of the NHLPA,” the Capitals captain said with a smile.
Ovechkin certainly sounded like a soldier ready to do battle with the NHL as it moves closer to a Sept. 15 lockout.
The following are excerpts of Ovechkin’s fairly explosive interview with a small group of reporters at Kettler:
On the possibility of a lockout: “Of course nobody wants to be in a position to be in a lockout, but it is what it is and we’re not going to give up.”
On the players’ plan to help struggling NHL teams: “We want to help teams that financially are not that good and the league knows it. They tell [us] what they want and think that cutting our salaries and our contract years is going to help that. Why are they still signing guys for 10 years and not five years? It’s strange and they look stupid. They right now say they want to cut salary and everything. Lots of guys just won’t come back if this happens.
On players’ support for executive director Donald Fehr: “I think everybody trust him and we all know exactly what he’s going to do. We feel exactly how it’s going to happen. If there is going to be a lockout there’s going to be a lockout. We’re ready for it. If we were not ready we would have signed the [offer] they gave us.
On playing in Russia if there is a lockout: “Of course I think about it. My hometown [Moscow] has teams and my Russian federation has a league. Of course I’m probably going to be there, but I don’t want to be there. I want to be here. But my contract is here and I hope the NHL and the NHLPA is going to sign a deal before [Sept]. 15.
On players being asked to give back a percentage of their salaries: “It’s not fair for us. They still make money. They still sell tickets and they have money. Why they sign us to long-term deals and that kind of money and when the CBA is done they want to cut our salary? Why do they want to cut 20 percent? If they’re going to cut a percentage of the contracts and years, I don’t think lots of guys who sign American deals are going to come back and play here. It’s not reasonable to be here. You have to think of your future. You have to think of your family.”
On if he thinks players would leave the NHL and never come back: “Yeah, Why not?”
On if he would consider leaving the NHL if his contract was reduced by 15 or 20 percent: “I’m going to think about it, but I hope not. It’s something the league wants for all the players. [Sidney] Crosby just signed, [Ryan] Suter, [Shea] Weber just signed huge deals. They want to cut 24 percent for nothing? I don’t think it’s fair enough.”
On the potential of a lockout: “I don’t think we’re close enough to make a deal. It’s all about the owners and [Gary] Bettman.
On what it will take to get a deal done: “We know exactly what they’re going to do. I’m not going to tell you what’s in our mind.”
On the impact an NHL work stoppage would have: “Of course it’s going to be hard and of course it’s going to be a long time to wait. But it is what it is. Everybody wants to play hockey and make money. Nobody wants to play for free.”