Signing Alex Ovechkin in the event of an NHL lockout is unnecessary and would bring “no prestige”, the president of a KHL team linked to the Washington Capitals star told R-Sport on Sunday.
The NHL’s collective contract between the league and the NHL Players’ Association is due to expire next month, with no replacement in place, setting the scene for a lockout such as the one that wiped out the 2004-05 season.
New Dynamo Moscow president Arkady Rotenberg’s comments distance the Gagarin Cup champion team from Ovechkin after Dynamo general director Andrei Safronov said the team would “talk with Ovechkin” if there is a lockout.
“I’m actually against it. And I don’t see any prestige in it,” Rotenberg said. “I think that Ovechkin isn’t necessary.”
Rotenberg, a billionaire businessman with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, hinted that he could be persuaded to bring in Ovechkin by Safronov and coach Oleg Znarok.
“I don’t know. If they persuade me strongly,” he said.
During the last lockout, which forced the cancellation of the 2004-05 season, 78 NHL players went to Russia including such stars as Vincent Lecavalier, Daniel Heatley and Patrik Elias.
Some KHL teams have already named Russians they would like to bring in if there is another lockout this season, with Metallurg Magnitogorsk planning to exercise its rights to Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk targeting its former player and NHL No. 1 draft pick Nail Yakupov.