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Author: Maxim Lebedev (Sport Express Newspaper)
Translated By: Alexei Belousenko
Date: 07/02/2005
Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals): I want to go to Omsk!

So, where are you going to play in the coming up season?
A. Ovechkin:
First of all, I would like to declare: unfortunately, the team that won the Russian Super League Championship doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t know if the new Dynamo will be weaker or stronger when compared to last season’s squad, but it will definitely be another team. There will be the same head coach, who I always had an excellent relationship with, but the team will be different. So, this is one of the main reasons why I decided to move on to another team. It’s very hard for me to leave my Dynamo. The situation that is going on right now, basically, doesn’t give me much of a choice.

What exactly do you mean by that? People say that the club didn’t meet some of your expectations.
A. Ovechkin:
I already explained my main reason. But, you are correct, there is another reason. The management of the team has not met all of their obligations. Actually, it impacted not only me, but other guys who were the backbone of last year’s team. As far as I know from my agent Sergey Isakov, who also is the agent of guys like Afinogenov, Markov, Chubarov, Yeremenko, Frolov, Vorobiev, the team management still has varying debts to these players. Specifically regarding the last two guys listed, the arbitration court ruled against Dynamo’s management regarding the club’s outstanding debt. If I’m not mistaken, the repayment was due June 21st. However, they didn’t fulfill it until now. This is despite all of the players doing their jobs perfectly.

Then why did you pick the team Avangard from Omsk?
A. Ovechkin: To begin with, my goal is the NHL. During the last season people forgot a little-bit about this league, but that didn’t make it any weaker. When the NHL bosses finally have an agreement with NHLPA, I would prefer to continue my career in Washington. Still, there is a chance that the lockout will continue or that the team that drafted me will not see a spot for me in the lineup. In these cases I would like to play in Omsk indeed because of the fact that this team has became very good in the last few years. The semifinal series Dynamo and Avangard during the last playoffs were not just a battle of individuals, but a battle of two strong teams. Unfortunately, Dynamo will have to build a strong team from the scratch now.

Dynamo just now confirmed the offer that you received from Omsk. Does it mean that you now don’t have a chance to move to Avangard?
A. Ovechkin: As far as I know, this arguable situation will be settled either between the two clubs, or in the arbitration court. I hope, they will ask for my opinion. I’m ready to reiterate: I would like to move to Omsk.

What are your plans for the near future?
A. Ovechkin: Before I was selected at the NHL draft, many of the specialists and coaches told me that going to the NHL at the age of 18 is too early. It may negatively affect my the development of my skills. And I was also advised not to go because of the lockout, so I stayed in Russia. From my point of view, I really did develop significantly during this past season. So, now my move to the NHL wouldn’t be a mistake. If the agreement would be signed, the NHL season, would start relatively late in the fall, so I would have to keep myself in shape somewhere else before that. The best way is to start the preparation period on July 18th in Omsk. So, these are my immediate future plans.

Anatoly KHARCHUK, Dynamo Moscocw president:
A. Kharchuk: I can declare that it wasn’t easy deciding to match Omsk’s offer. First of all, Avangard’s management signed the preliminary contract with Ovechkin for an amount that substantially exceeds our offer that we presented at the end of the season.

The situation with Ovechkin is aggravated by the fact that the management didn’t meet some of their obligations...
A. Kharchuk:
To be exact, only one obligation. The club was supposed to provide Ovechkin with the condominium which was accomplished by the set due date. We have all of the necessary paperwork. However, the player wasn’t satisfied with the certain details: maybe the location of the building, maybe something else. After that, we agreed (but there wasn’t a due date for this agreement) that Ovechkin would receive an appropriate financial compensation instead of the condominium. We did remember this agreement, and Alexander knows that we are presently solving this question. So I think there shouldn’t be any problems in this case.

Can Avangard’s management request the exact confirmation of its terms; let’s say not only about the sum, but also about the due dates?
A. Kharchuk: The recent changes to the current regulations clearly state the fact that we must confirm the full sum offered by Avangard. Right now I am confirming it by faxing the official paperwork to the PHL (Russian Hockey League).

So now will Ovechkin stay with Dynamo for sure?
A. Kharchuk: The most talented product of the Dynamo system in the recent years should play for his own club. That I can say for sure.

Vladimir SARAYEV, the director of Avangard Omsk’s legal department:
V. Sarayev: Our club is very much interested in Alexander Ovechkin. So, we have signed him to a preliminary contract. As far as we know, Dynamo’s management did confirm our terms. Nevertheless, we still regard the question of moving Ovechkin to Omsk as unsolved. The previous club didn’t pay off all of its debts. Now it’s not a secret to anyone, even Dynamo’s management accepts this fact. So, does the Dynamo’s management, in this case, have the right to propose the new offer to someone whom it still owes obligations from the previous one? We think that from the legal point of view, the team-debtor can’t accept the engagements because it increases the full sum of debts. We intend to defend this position ‘till the end, even if this means arbitration.

Don’t you think that this situation has to be solved not in a sports arbitration, but in a civil court?
V. Sarayev:
Avangard’s management supposes that Ovechkin’s case should remain a sports issue. We were the ones who worked on PHL’s regulations and, later, on the changes and additions to it, so we have to live by following our own rules. Nevertheless, we think that the most important is the opinion of the player. If he wants to play for a certain team, than no one would stop him. At the same time, if he doesn’t wish to represent a certain club, than perhaps no one can force him to do it. What can be easier? Ask Ovechkin!

- Written By Maxim Lebedev
- Translated By Alexei Belousenko

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