Rumor: Alex Ovechkin could “retire” just like Ilya Kovalchuk.

Insider believes it may be the easiest road for Ovechkin to take.

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Rumor: Alex Ovechkin could “retire” just like Ilya Kovalchuk.

By the sound of things Alex Ovechkin was among the players hopeful that a last minute deal that would allow National Hockey League players to participate n the Olympics would come to fruition, however it now seems clear that this won't be coming to pass. 

Now if Ovechkin does indeed intend to participate in the Olympics regardless of the NHL's decision he will be faced with an incredibly difficult decision, one that could drastically alter the rest of his professional hockey career.

In a recent article for Spector's Hockey NHL analyst Lyle Richardson suggested that the easiest solution for Ovechkin may be to "retire" much in the way that fellow Russian Ilya Kovalchuk did when he was a member of the New Jersey Devils.

From Richardson:

An easier route could be following the example of Ilya Kovalchuk and retire from the NHL. That’s how Kovalchuk got out of his long-term contract with the New Jersey Devils in 2013, allowing him to play in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

If Ovechkin chooses that option, it’ll be years before he could return to the NHL as a free agent. Doing so before age 35 requires the approval of the other NHL team owners, some of whom might not be amenable to that notion.

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There's no doubt that Ovechkin's retirement would have a major impact on the NHL, especially for the Washington Capitals, and one has to wonder how that would impact the NHL's future decisions regarding Olympic participation.

Whether or not Ovechkin goes through with it is another matter entirely, he currently earns an average of $9.5 million per season and he would be giving up four years of guaranteed money if he were to leave for the KHL. While he almost certainly would own a commiserate salary in the KHL, the league has had it's financial struggles as of late and that is certain to give him pause.