There has been a constant drumbeat since the NHL locked out its players on Sept. 15 and it may be one the Capitals and their fans would rather not hear.
Alex Ovechkin was the first to entertain the thought of playing the entire season in Russia back on Sept. 4, a few days before he left the nation’s capital with a one-way ticket to Moscow.
Since then Ilya Kovalchuk has said he’d be “delighted to stay in the KHL and Ilya Bryzgalov has said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Russians forsake the NHL for Russia.
Earlier Wednesday it was Sweden’s Henrik Zetterberg who banged the same drum when he told MLive.com that the option of playing in the KHL may be more attractive to Russian players than playing in the NHL.
“I know for a fact Russians will probably stay,” Zetterberg said. “I can’t blame them either. The Russian league treats players a different way. For them to play in their home country and not have these [labor] disputes every other year … and they honor the contracts over there.
“If you sign a deal, that’s the deal you get.”
Ovechkin has nine years and $88 million remaining on his NHL contract with the Capitals -- $9 million in each of the next two seasons and $10 million a year in each of the following seven.
Ovechkin reportedly is making $6 million, tax free, to play for Moscow Dynamo and has said numerous times he would consider staying in Russia if a new NHL labor agreement called for an immediate reduction in salaries.
In other words, if Ovechkin can make slightly less money to play in Russia than he does in the NHL, he may consider staying there for good. And could anyone blame him?
This is the second time in his career Ovechkin has been forced to miss an NHL paycheck. He played in Russia during the last lockout of 2004-05 and has shown his commitment to his country with several appearances with the national team in the World Championships.
Given the chance to stay in Russia for the remainder of this season, would Ovechkin do it? More importantly, with the 2014 Winter Olympics scheduled for Sochi, would Ovi simply stay in Russia through next season as well?