Will Russians be allowed to play in the league?
The National Hockey League employs a number of Russian players and at this point, league and team officials probably are concerned that some of those players are not coming back to play once training camp starts in September because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war. The Athletic writer Michael Russo had a story about Kirill Kaprizov, who plays for Minnesota, which included that Kaprizov could not return to the United States twice this off season. There are no direct flights between the United States and Russia and according to the story, Kaprizov tried to enter the US through Dubai on one instance and a Caribbean Island another time. Another player, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender prospect Ivan Fedotov, allegedly was detained for reportedly using fake military identification to avoid being drafted and being sent to the fight in Ukraine. The NHL has its hands tied and has no leverage in getting players out of Russia even if a player or players have valid contracts with league teams. Russia decided to start a war with Ukraine. Even NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has acknowledged this.
“The Russian players that still reside in Russia need to make sure they’re making the best possible decisions for themselves and their families. We probably don’t have the full story as to what’s going on in terms of what each player’s relationship is in Russia with respect to the government, and we’re going to have to respect the process as to what goes on. I think it’s probably not a good idea for us or the clubs to get involved in the politics of what’s going on in Russia, and I think players need to make sure they’re comfortable in what they’re doing and where they’re doing it.” Russian athletes are still participating in some international events but doors have been closed on them too.
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