New bill could ban Ovechkin, others from Olympics


From left: Alexander Radulov, Alex Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk have each represented Russia at least twice at the Olympics. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

Proposed legislation in Russia could prevent a number of hockey superstars from ever competing at the Olympics again.

According to the Associated Press, “Russian parliament will consider barring athletes from competing in more than two Olympics.” The bill, which was put forward by lawmaker Yegor Anisimov, will aim to prevent older, injury-prone athletes from taking the place of younger competitors at future Games.

If the bill were to pass, it would mean NHL stars Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Andrei Markov and Semyon Varlamov, among others, would be ineligible to play for Team Russia at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics should the NHL allow its players to compete in the tournament.

KHL stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov would also be ineligible because they – like the players mentioned above – have already represented Russia at the Olympics on multiple occasions.

It’s unclear at this time exactly how much support this bill will receive, but early indications suggest it’s highly unlikely to get passed. One reason for this is the fact several members of Russian parliament are former Olympians, including three-time Olympic gold medal–winning figure skater Irina Rodnina who has been critical of the proposed bill.

NHLers have competed at the Olympics since the 1998 Nagano Games, but there is no agreement in place for the 2018 Games. Some believe the return of next year’s World Cup diminishes the chances of NHL players going back to the Olympics.

The NHL, the NHLPA and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach are expected to meet at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in the Czech Republic next month to discuss the future of NHLers at the Olympics.

With files from Associated Press

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