The Vancouver Canucks and NHL’s policy of not talking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine doesn’t do anything to help the cause of bringing the war to a conclusion. One might argue it only helps prolong it.
Yes, the dilemma is obvious; if Russian NHL’ers speak out against Vladimir Putin and his decision to invade Ukraine, they potentially endanger family members back home.
So therefore it’s business as usual. Alexander Ovechkin is chasing a goal scoring record, the Vancouver Canucks have three Russians who could help them make the playoffs. We can’t mess with that!
When we hear of young Russian hockey players potentially being arrested and forced to serve in the military as opposed to playing hockey in North America or elsewhere, we don’t necessarily think about the fact that the guy might be involved in killing Ukrainians, some hockey management folks first think about how crappy it would be to have that player missing from his team’s power play.
Glancing through my daily Washington Post e-mail summary on Sunday, I came across “Four-year-old Elizaveta Dmytrieva grinned as she pushed her stroller along the street in Vinnytsia, Ukraine”, only to get blown up by a Russian missile, the bloody stroller left in a heap by the side of the road.
Quite a reminder. Otherwise, for most, out of sight, out of mind.
The cynical side of my brain immediately went to, “gee, what if this was a story about Britney Spears having a feud with her father or Johnny Depp in court battling his ex-girlfriend?’ Would DUHmericans lose interest then?
Meanwhile, there will be upwards of 50 Russians playing in or nearly playing in the NHL this coming season. What kind of message would it send, what kind of attention would it bring to the ongoing catastrophic tragedy in Ukraine if the NHL banned these players? Sent them home?
OK, the latter idea is extreme, no doubt, in our land where people are allowed to work and earn freely. We don’t and shouldn’t blame the players themselves obviously, but with something this serious, they could be used as leverage. There must be an effective medium.
Gagging those that might want to speak out, hiding the topic when NHL players and teams could potentially have a powerful impact on the situation seems almost criminal.
A press release “strongly condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine” six months ago and then the NHL and Vancouver Canucks essentially instituting a gag order on the subject brings to mind one word: pathetic.
Definitely don’t want to affect gross revenues.
Let the players speak if they want to, call attention to this thing, give them the choice. One person can make a difference.
Any other ideas?
ADDED: See the fans response.