Memo to Gary Bettman and the NHL: Alex Ovechkin is participating in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Coca-Cola, of course.
Hours after a Coca-Cola commercial featuring Ovechkin aired on Russian television on Wednesday, the head of Russia’s Olympic organizing committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, announced that Ovechkin would be one of the torch bearers for the event’s 123-day relay through the streets of Russia.
“Coca-Cola has put out a film with Ovechkin in it,” Chernyshenko said. “That means Ovechkin will be one of the torch-bearers.”
“It’s a big thing in Russia and it’s a very good thing,” Ovechkin said after practice on Wednesday, “and I’m very proud I’m one of the guys who’s gonna [carry the] torch. So I’m very happy. It means a lot to me.”
A torch won't be the only thing Ovechkin carries in Russia. He plans on packing his hockey stick as well when the Winter Games begin 13 months from now. For the record, the NHL’s participation in the Olympics remains unresolved under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“It doesn’t matter what they’re going to say to me, to be honest with you,” Ovechkin said of the NHL’s decision on Olympic participation. “Of course it means a lot for everybody, for all the Russians. I’ve been in Olympic Games and I know exactly how it feels to play there. It’s pretty big, it’s the biggest event in the world.”
Ovechkin has played in two Winter Olympics in his career. In 2006 the Russians finished fourth and in 2010 they finished sixth.
“It’s gonna be big and it’s gonna be huge up there,” he said. “Everybody get so excited right now about it. Again, I’m just lucky guy who gonna have this opportunity.