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29 Nov, 2023 21:15

NHL should force Russian players to speak out against own nation – hockey icon

Dominik Hasek has lashed out at the league for “allowing” them to play on its teams
NHL should force Russian players to speak out against own nation – hockey icon

The National Hockey League (NHL) is not doing enough for Ukraine, Dominik Hasek, the former Czech goalkeeper considered among the finest ever at his position, claimed on Tuesday. He demanded that Russians either be forced to publicly renounce their homeland’s policies or barred from playing with NHL teams.

Hasek emerged as a staunch critic of sports federations that did not ban Russians amid the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev. He had previously called on the NHL to impose sanctions on Russian athletes or be made to “pay” for not doing so.

In his latest interview with the Slovak news outlet TVNoviny, the Olympic gold medalist, who played for various teams in North America as well as Russia’s Spartak Moscow, admitted that the NHL was not heeding his advice.

“At the moment, there is no interest on their part for Russian hockey players to be suspended in the NHL,” Hasek said, adding that he had personally written several letters to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman over the course of the conflict but apparently to no avail. He also said that politicians in the US and Canada apparently had little interest in this issue either.

Hasek then claimed that playing in the NHL somehow allows Russians to “advertise Russian war crimes,” adding that he condemns them for doing so but also condemns the NHL itself for letting them play.

According to Hasek, the NHL “must be interested in helping” Ukraine above all else and criticized the league for supposedly putting its own profits first. Instead, the NHL should have “set the rules” requiring all Russian players, coaches, and other staff to publicly “condemn” Moscow’s actions in its conflict with Kiev, the former goalkeeper, 57, insisted. He added that they should have also been forced to renounce what he called the “annexation” of Crimea and other former Ukrainian territories that voted in referendums to join Russia.

The Czech sports star also said he would like to see governments in Prague and Bratislava ban their athletes from playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), a professional hockey league that includes clubs from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and China. However, he admitted that hockey players could earn more there “than anywhere else for that job."

In late February 2022, the NHL called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

Moscow has repeatedly criticized the bans imposed on their nation’s athletes, describing them as discriminatory and contrary to the principle of sport being outside politics.

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