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The NHL made it clear Monday that they strongly condemn the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The league released a statement outlying its new guidelines in handling matters with Russia, effectively ending relationships with the country for the time being.
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“The National Hockey League condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible,” the statement reads. “Effective immediately, we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia and we are pausing our Russian language social and digital media sites. In addition, we are discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL.
“We also remain concerned about the well-being of the players from Russia, who play in the NHL on behalf of their NHL clubs, and not on behalf of Russia. We understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position.”
The NHL’s statement follows the lead of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which said Monday that teams from Belarus and Russia will be banned from participating in international hockey events “until further notice.” The IIHF also announced that they would relocate the 2023 World Junior Championship tournament out of Russia, per ESPN.
While Russian hockey players make up roughly 5% of the league, the most notable of those, Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, has faced backlash for his previous support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During his media session after Friday’s practice, Ovechkin preached a message of peace after what he saw transpiring in Ukraine.
“Please, no more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — we have to live in peace,” Ovechkin said.
But while the NHL and Ovechkin have seemingly done their parts in speaking and acting out against Russia, Hall of Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek thinks there’s more work to be done. Hasek sounded off on Twitter Saturday, going as far to call Ovechkin a “chicken shit.”
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“The NHL must immediately suspend contracts for all Russian players,” Hasek wrote. “Every athlete represents not only himself and his club, but also his country and its values and actions. That is a fact. If the NHL does not do so, it has indirect co-responsibility for the dead in Ukraine.”