Washington Capitals star forward Alexander Ovechkin had some strong words about the NHL labour negotiations, saying that if the NHL decides to cut salaries, many players may not return.
Ovechkin voiced his concerns in a conference call with The Washington Times and The Washington Post on Wednesday.
"I said it before, before I sign a contract, if the league decides to cut our salaries and cut our contracts for what they want, I don't know how many guys will be coming back," Ovechkin said on the call. "We signed contracts before so why do they have to cut our salaries and our contracts right now? They signed us, [now they] want to cut it. I think it's a stupid idea and a stupid decision by the NHL, [commissioner Gary] Bettman and the guys who work there.
"If it's going to be the same situation, I think it's going to be all year because we're not going to give up," Ovechkin told the Times and Post. "We stick together because we have a very good [leader], Don Fehr, and the guys know and trust him right now because his job is to help us to play hockey and play hockey [with] what we deserve to play hockey."
The 27-year-old returned to his former Russian team, Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League, after signing a one-year contract less than a week after the lockout began. There is an out-clause in the contract that allows him to return to North America when the NHL season begins and he would be contractually obligated to return.
If Ovechkin were to stay in Russia, he would be in violation of his contract with the Capitals and the breach of contract would also bring sanctions from the IIHF.
Ovechkin has a nine-year, $88 million contract with the Capitals which runs through the 2020-21 season.