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Ovechkin, Kirilenko get engaged

High-profile couple have been dating since last year

Gulf News

Los Angeles: NHL star Alex Ovechkin used Twitter to trumpet his engagement to tennis star Maria Kirilenko on Monday, posting a picture of the Russian sports power couple.

“We are engaged!!!!!!” tweeted 27-year-old Ovechkin, a star for the NHL’s Washington Capitals who is playing in his home country during the lockout that has hit the North American league and threatens to wipe out the entire season.

The accompanying photo showed the pair, both wearing skates, posing arm in arm on a patch of outdoor ice. Kirilenko, who will turn 26 in January, is a five-time winner on the WTA Tour who has been ranked as high as 12th in the world.

The two have been dating since late last year, and Ovechkin was on hand in July at the All England Club when she reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time.

The players’ union, meanwhile, presented a response to the latest league contract proposal with the sides due to talk again in the New Year. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the union’s response was “a comprehensive one” that dealt with the issues put forward by the league.

Once league officials have had a chance to review it, Bettman said, he expected the two sides to get together again on Tuesday.

Team owners have already wiped out 625 games through January 14, just over half the planned schedule that was to have started in October, and vow they will not stage a season with less than 48 games per team.

That means a deal by mid-January is essential if the league isn’t to lose the entire season to the lockout that began in September after the previous contract expired.

If that doesn’t happen, the league is faced with cancelling the entire season for the second time, after a similar bitter dispute over finances scuppered all games in 2004-05. On Friday, league officials confirmed they had made a new contract proposal to players.