Three days after being hospitalized with what many feared was a serious knee injury, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was back on the ice practicing with Team Russia and sounding like a man on a mission to win gold at the IIHF World Championships in Minsk, Belarus.
“If I did not feel that I am ready to help the team, I wouldn’t be trying,” Ovechkin told reporters in Belarus, according to R-Sport via Russian Machine Never Breaks. “I would end my season. As long as I am able to help, I will act.”
Ovechkin also disputed reports that he suffered a sprain to his right knee, which appeared to be the point of contact when he was upended Sunday by a hip check from German forward Markus Kink, who was suspended one game for the hit.
“It’s hard to say that I have a knee problem,” Ovechkin said. “It’s actually something a bit different.”
Ovechkin acknowledged he was given a right knee brace by Team Russia’s medical staff but said he would not wear one if he returns to action Thursday against France, who opened the tournament with a stunning upset over Team Canada.
“Let me repeat, it’s not my knee, but different organs and muscles,” Ovechkin said. “ I skated today. I have some pain, but of course, it is better than it was the first day.”
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When Ovechkin was first injured it appeared likely he would sit out the remainder of the World Championships, which continues with quarterfinal action on Thursday, followed by semifinals on Saturday and the gold medal game on Sunday. He sat out Tuesday’s victory over Belarus.
Now, it appears Ovechkin is intent on winning his third gold medal in the World Championships. He was also on the Russian teams that prevailed in 2008 and 2012. Russia is a perfect 7-0 in the tournament and Ovechkin has three goals and six assists in six games. He sat out Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Belarus.
“I feel better, and there is still 24 hours until the game against France,” Ovechkin said. “Will I play? Ask the head coach. Do I feel I am ready to play? When you come out [to play], you have to be completely ready. There are some nuances, we’ll discuss.”
Despite protestations from the Russian Hockey Federation. Ovechkin said he did not think Kink’s hip check was a dirty hit.
“The hit in my opinion was a clean one, I just did not get out of the way in time,” he told reporters. “If I kept going straight, everything could have turned out differently. Why did I not take the hit directly? If I get by him, I have a breakaway.”
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