The case has been bubbling for several days. In particular, Dominik Hašek is putting very strong pressure on the government and other responsible persons. It is fighting on several fronts. He wants to ban Czechs from working in Russia across the board, and he doesn’t even want Russian hockey players at the NHL in Prague in October.
He achieved his. The Czech government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informed the NHL a few days ago that Russian hockey players are not welcome in the Czech Republic during the October event. The position is determined by the support of Ukraine, which is at war with Russia. A number of Czech and overseas servers and periodicals are devoted to the topic. As expected, opinions are very conflicting.
The Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks are to be seen in Prague on October 7 and 8. Teams where fortunately there is not a strong Russian community. However, we can find Russian players here as well. Nashville has Jakov Trenin, San Jose has Alexandr Barabanov and Yevgeny Svechnikov, who is in camp on a trial contract. Plus several other hockey players of wider rosters, whose future will be clarified by the camp.
“We can confirm that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a letter to the leadership of the NHL, in which it warned that neither the Czechia nor any other state of the Schengen area should issue visas to Russian players for entry to our territory at this time,” said Deputy Foreign Ministry Martin Smolek.
“At the same time, we pointed out the ongoing negotiations on the entry ban for citizens of the Russian Federation who have valid visas issued earlier. This approach is based both on the recommendation of the Ministers of Sports not to allow the participation of Russian athletes in the EU, as well as on the conclusions of the informal meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the end of August this year and on the guidelines of the European Commission,” added Smolek.
One for all, all for one
Deputy league commissioner Bill Daly responded to the AP agency in the sense that he is not concerned that the Russian players would not travel to Prague. He added that they have all the necessary visas and permits. However, there are also less diplomatic comments from across the Atlantic. Especially from San Jose, for whom Barabanov is a support; he was the Sharks fifth most productive player last year.
“We are one team. So if they say one can’t go, none of us will go. We are a bunch. What happens in the world is not the fault of the players. They didn’t do anything wrong, so they shouldn’t be punished for anything. We stand behind them,” said San Jose general manager Mike Grier.
In a similar vein, captain Logan Couture said: “The way I look at it is that we’re a team. We want everyone there. All the guys who make the team are part of it.”
Dominik Hašek, a former top goalie with a history of 16 seasons overseas and one in the KHL, called the NHL’s insistence on the participation of Russians in Prague an “inexcusable act”.
The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Colorado Avalanche will play in early November in Finland, which requested to join NATO after the escalation of the situation in Ukraine. As CBS Sports writes: “This country has not yet issued any official position on the participation of Russian hockey players in its matches.”
The Washington Post, for example, covers the entire case. It is hard to imagine the reaction if the Capitals were to go to Prague and had to leave a large group of Russians (Kuznětsov, Orlov), led by Alexander Ovechkin, in the USA. This would be a significant weakening with an impact on the regularity of the result.
Ovechkin, whose behavior continues to arouse controversy, was incidentally asked again on Thursday about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. He has avoided a direct answer several times, limiting himself to the hackneyed platitudes that “he would need more information” and “we’ll see what happens.”
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