NewsAlert:Ovechkin still plans to play in Pyeongchang

Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin is among a number of Russians who could defy the National Hockey League over Olympic participation, by abandoning their teams mid-season or simply bolting overseas to play the entire 2017-18 season in Russia.

"I didn't change my mind and I won't", said Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals captain who's still chasing a first Olympic medal.

"NHL clubs have not wanted to go to the Olympics and we have been saying that for months if not years", said Bettman.

The NHL has announced that NHL players won't go to the winter games next year because the majority of clubs don't want to disrupt the 2017-18 season. "So, I don't know, somebody [is] going to tell me 'don't go, ' I don't care, I just go", he told reporters. The NHLPA released a strongly worded statement Monday night calling the league's decision "shortsighted", and many big names have said publicly that they want to represent their countries.

"It's disappointing - I think that's easy to say", Connor McDavid said in a video posted to Oilers TV on Tuesday.

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The NHL has not ruled out participating in the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, though the IIHF and International Olympic Committee had indicated that could be conditional on the NHL going to South Korea.

Players from many different countries expressed their frustration in the wake of the NHL's announcement on Monday.

Jonathan Toews has been vocal about playing in the Olympics, what it means to wear that national sweater and compete for the gold medal he's already won twice. Subban said. "I'm not the one who makes those decisions".

According to TSN's Rick Westhead, NHLPA head Don Fehr told agents at a recent meeting in Vancouver that he expects the NHL to prevent owners from allowing individual players to participate in the Olympics.

"That's what we've been working on; that's the reason there's a World Cup - trying to reach certain fan bases that maybe we haven't reached before or reached enough", he said.

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Alex Ovechkin and other players aren't so sure the NHL's decision to skip the Winter Olympics in South Korea next year is final.

With all due respect, they shouldn't have been there anyway.

"Any time any of us have an opportunity to play for our country, there's obviously another level of emotion that comes with that", the hockey great said. For many current players, this would be their best shot at getting out of the leaguewide decision, as some owners could acquiesce star players' requests to go.

"The League's efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself", the statement said.

Blues prospect Jordan Kyrou, who was the team's second-round pick (No. 35 overall) last summer, has been assigned to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. The 13-hour time difference between South Korea and the US Eastern Standard Time zone has also been cited as an issue.

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The International Ice Hockey Federation stepped up to cover the expenses, but the NHL anxious that funding the Olympics would have meant cuts to grassroots programs and initiatives that help grow the sport. "But I know everyone in Canada gets more up to watch Team Canada than even their favorite Canadian team for one of an 82-game schedule", Duchene said.

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