The NHL owners officially locked out the players at midnight on Saturday, and with no negotiations scheduled, players such as Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Michal Neuvirth are exploring their options overseas, an indication they don’t expect the labor dispute to be settled anytime soon.
Ovechkin, who has yet to sign a contract but has said he plans to play in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League during the lockout, told Sovetsky Sport on Monday that he believes the NHL lockout could wipe out the entire season.
“If the League [NHL] continues to insist on their [demands], then it will take a full year,” Ovechkin told Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport as translated by Yahoo’s Dmitry Chesnokov. “That’s because we are not going to cave in. Then I will spend the entire season in the KHL. It’s an absolute reality.”
Ovechkin, who turned 27 on Monday, has been outspoken about the NHL’s labor negotiations in recent weeks, and if his characterization of NHLPA solidarity is accurate, the league could be in for another long work stoppage eight years after canceling the entire 2004-05 season.