Alexander Ovechkin has been one of the more outspoken players during fractured negotiations between the NHL and its players' association - and his latest quote doesn't offer much in the way of optimism for fans.
In an exclusive interview with Dmitry Ponomarenko of Sovetsky Sport, Ovechkin said the players' resolve is as strong as ever, and the union won't concede to the owners just for the sake of getting a deal done.
"If the league (continues with its demands), then the lockout will drag on for a year. We're not going to give way, either. Then I will spend the entire season in the KHL. It's real."
That Ovechkin chose such strong language is certainly not new. Recently, he said that the blame for the NHL lockout fell solely on the shoulders of the league's owners and "The Bettman", referring to commissioner Gary Bettman. He also suggested that some Russian players might choose to return home and play in the KHL rather than accept the salary rollback proposed by the league.
According to a post from Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy blog, Ovechkin is still undecided on where he plans to sign. It's believed the competition for his services has been narrowed to CSKA and Dynamo Moscow.
Ovechkin's Russian agent, Gleb Chistyakov, said negotiations are still ongoing but there was nothing else he wished to share with the media.
Here's what Ovechkin told Ponomarenko surrnouding questions about his future:
"I am not yet ready to answer this question. But I think that you will know everything in a few days. It will all be officially announced."
Chuck Gormley points out in his Capitals Talk blog that whichever teams signs Ovechkin can do so for 65 percent of his NHL salary, or roughly $6 million if he remains with the team for the entire season.
Meanwhile, Ovechkin has spent the past 10 days in Russia as he prepares for his birthday - his first in his native country since he was a teenager. He told the Capitals' website he doesn't plan to let things get crazy.
“I’m getting older now. I have more friends than I did then. But you’re not going to see my birthday on YouTube and I’m not going to be hiring the Black-Eyed Peas. It’s going to be me, my family, my friends and my dogs. Just some barbecue and a very chill day.”
Ovechkin turns 27 Monday.