MOSCOW, April 4. /TASS/. All members of Russia’s national hockey team with NHL contracts are willing to take part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, a senior hockey official told TASS Tuesday.
"I know that members of our team, who have contracts in the NHL, want to go to the Olympics," said Roman Rotenberg, the first vice president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.
The NHL announced on Monday that it had decided against altering its schedule for the 2017-2018 season, meaning that international players bound by contracts with NHL clubs would not be able to leave next year to join their national teams to play at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
The Washington Capitals stars Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Kuznetsov said Tuesday they still intended to play in the Olympic Games regardless of the NHL move.
"Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Kuznetsov are the true patriots of the country, just like other national team members with NHL contracts, we have never had any doubt about that," Rotenberg said.
According to the official, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation was ready to render legal support to NHL players, willing to take part in the Olympics.
"We appreciate their statements and are ready to render suppot, including in legal matters, as we did for other players," he said. "But at the same time, the legal aspect of the matter is as follows: without a permission from (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman and (NHL deputy commissioner and chief legal officer) Bill Daly no one can leave the league, regardless of their nationality."
"They won’t be able to get an international transfer card, needed to compete in international events," the Russian hockey official added. "But, anyway, we are ready to render all support to them."
The Winter Olympic Games will be held in South Korea’s PyeongChang between February 9 and 25, 2018.