Washington Capitals address Ovechkin return from Russia


General manager Brian MacLellan commented amid claims some NHL clubs have ‘fears’ about Russian stars not returning

NHL team Washington Capitals are not concerned that their captain and star player Alex Ovechkin or his compatriots will have problems returning to the US from Russia before the start of the season. 

Worries have arisen in North America after the Philadelphia Flyers’ new signing Ivan Fedotov was detained in St. Petersburg last week, reportedly on suspicion of evading military service. The goaltender, 25, is now said to be completing studies at a military center in northern Russia. 

In general, restricted travel between Russia and the US and Canada due to the military conflict in Ukraine has also led to reservations about selecting Russian stars in the NHL draft, which gets underway on Thursday, and according to The Athletic these concerns stretch to established stars possibly not being allowed to head overseas from visiting their loved ones back home.

As explained to Sportsnet in Canada, however, these are not worries shared by the Washington Capitals’ general manager Brian MacLellan regarding their skipper Ovechkin and other Russians on the team. 

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“I think obviously there’s a little uncertainty,” MacLellan confessed. “But talking to our guys, I think everybody’s pretty comfortable that they’re coming back and they’re playing next year, so I can go by what our players say and their comfort level with it.

“And there might be some uncertainty, but I think we’re pretty confident they’re all coming back to play,” he added.

MacLellan’s comments come amid Minnesota Wild counterpart Bill Guerin denying reports from some sections of the Russian media that his player Kirill Kaprizov had immediately returned to the US after Fedotov was detained.   

“He’s in Russia, and he’s doing fine,” Guerin said of Kaprizov following an annual general managers’ meeting at the draft in Montreal. “He’s with his friends and with his family.”

Guerin added that he wasn’t “overly concerned” about Kaprizov heading home to Russia after Minnesota were eliminated from the playoffs in the Stanley Cup finals, and he isn’t worried about whether he will return or not.

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“All I’m trying to do is get information and not jump the gun or push the panic button on anything,” Guerin stressed.

There were claims, since refuted by sources who spoke to RT, that Fedotov and Kaprizov had been suspected of obtaining fraudulent military documents to avoid service.   

As for Fedotov, the Flyers’ general manager Chuck Fletcher can’t provide any update and thinks it’s “best that I limit my public comments on the matter.”

“It’s obviously a sensitive situation, and we’re doing our best to stay abreast of developments, and that’s probably the best way to leave it,” Fletcher further stated. 

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is also unconcerned that Ilya Sorokin might not return, and claimed that the young goaltender currently being in Russia has “no bearings” on what the franchise decides to do with his positional rival and compatriot Semyon Varlamov, who has a year left on his current contract.

The new NHL season is set to get underway on October 7.

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