Russian NHL players are under mounting pressure as Ukrainian Canadians call for a league-wide ban

0

After the invasion of Ukraine, Russian-born NHL players are facing increasing pressure to retire from the league.

The Calgary Flames have a Russian in Nikita Zadorov, who posted “STOP IT, NO WAR” on his Instagram last week, but Zadorov was not made available by the team to speak publicly on the issue.

The Washington Capitals have a sizeable Russian contingent in their organization, including elite superstar Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin was criticized last month for his comments on the war and his friendship with President Vladimir Putin.

Though he wasn’t made available to the media ahead of the Capitals’ game against the Flames on Tuesday, head coach Peter Laviolette says his Russian players may not be fully welcomed by Flames fans.

“I think they know what’s going on,” Laviolette said.

“We talk to our players about it, we support our players. They’ve done so much good for the game. They are athletes, they play hockey here. We cannot control what other people say.”

Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin looks up during the first period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers Thursday, February 24, 2022 in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson)

When asked what kind of reception Ovechkin expected, Flames coach Darryl Sutter said he didn’t expect hostility.

“No, I didn’t,” Sutter said.

“We also have a great Russian player in our team and you can’t put it all together. They are our players, our family and we help them. That’s what we do.”

When asked what kind of reception Ovechkin expected, Flames coach Darryl Sutter said he didn’t expect hostility.

One of Sutter’s former players, Dominik Hasek, for whom he was an associate coach in Chicago in the 1990s, has called for the suspension of Russian players in the NHL.

When Sutter was asked if he could understand where Hasek came from: “No, I don’t agree. I just answered this question. Don’t ask twice.”

However, Zadorov has the support of his coaches and teammates.

Defender Erik Gudbranson appeared before the media wearing a black ‘NZ’ hat, a brand created by Zadorov himself.

“He’s got a badge and I just wore the hat. It’s a nice hat,” Gudbranson said.

Mikael Backlund, who will play his 800th game for the Flames on Tuesday, says the team stands by his friend.

“We talk a little bit about it and support him and we know it’s hard for him,” said Backlund.

“There’s probably some stress there as to what’s going on with the family, but he seems to be doing pretty well and we’re there to support him.”

UKRAINIAN COMMUNITY DEMANDS BAN OF RUSSIAN PLAYERS

Calgary’s Ukrainian community is calling on the NHL to ban Russian players from playing across the league.

“Why should we allow Russian players to play on our teams in a safe environment here in the NHL and make a living while their brothers and cousins ​​are murdering people right now?” asked Calgarian Gordon Sokolon.

Calgary’s Ukrainian community is calling on the NHL to ban Russian players from playing across the league.

Sokolon even went so far as to criticize both sides for not allowing their Russian players to speak to the media before the game.

“Shame on the flames and the caps,” said Sokolon.

“Did something happen in the world that a reporter might want to ask these guys a question about?”

Former President of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress and current Ukrainian activist in Calgary Mike IInycky believes Ovechkin neglects to call Vladimir Putin.

“He has a platform, he has a privileged position to condemn his president’s actions. If he doesn’t say war, he has to ask: is it Putin or is it peace?”

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Capitals issued a statement regarding their Russian players on Twitter.

The Flames’ last two home games paid tribute to those in Ukraine, with the Ukrainian anthem being sung at Monday’s game against Edmonton.

The organization confirms that there are no further plans to show solidarity at this time, but felt it necessary to react quickly at the previous games.

The Scotiabank Saddledome allows signs, flags and banners, but they must not be awkward, obstruct the view of others, and be attached to railings or poles longer than 23 inches.

Share.

Comments are closed.