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The Canucks and NHL’s Russian Dilemma – Ignoring a War

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Vancouver Canucks, Andrei Kuzmenko
Andrey Kuzmenko is one of three Russians on the Vancouver Canucks roster.

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.

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Terry

I don’t really think Putin would give a damn about what the NHL does with Russian players. If they are suspended from play until the conflict is over, he would just tell them to come home and play in the KHL. I seriously doubt he will change his agenda in the Ukraine based on the plight of a few hockey players.

Robert Lee

I agree completely. The players are caught in the middle. Unless they’re diehard Putin fans, I think most of the NHL Russian players are aware of what’s happening because they live in North America most of the time so news broadcasts are obvious but if they speak out too strenuously, Putin has a way of reaching Russians anywhere so the best course is to shut up..hope Ukraine comes out ahead and play hockey.

Will

If you think that sending innocent Russian players home to send a message to their government will do anything other than reduce the quality of NHL hockey, then you are dreaming. Ukraine does not want to negotiate peace, hockey players will not stop this “war”

mee

There’s no dilemma outside of the few media ding dongs who think this is an issue, and the mindless automatons who follow them like lost dogs.
Whatever’s going on with Russia has exactly ZERO to do with anyone from that country wanting to play hockey. And that’s the way it should be.
Punishing a bunch of teenagers from Russia, excluding them from the World Juniors was also stupid to the hilt.
GOOD GRIEF PEOPLE.

Paul

Seems like the media has nothing better to write about. These are individual citizens not the Russian government . Should we ban anyone waving a Canadian flag as well because they might be an anti mask or anti vaxer?

These players are staying quiet with a low profile. We don’t know what any of the Russian Canucks positions really are which is how it should be. So really the Canadian Flag wavers are at least guilty we can’t say the same for the Russian hockey players.

I ask you this . If these players were openly Pro Putin we would have heard something. The fact we haven’t shows they are fearful of persecution and persecution of their families. What we can do as Canadians is support them not criticize them. That’s what our country is supposed to stand for.

Russia is the only one that can end the war, and the best scenario with the least bloodshed is that is done from within Russia by Russians themselves. This is a propaganda driven war. Isolating and blaming the Russian people who have no power in this totalitarian society will have the opposite effect to our end goal.

We need to win their hearts and minds by supporting the people and at the same time isolating their government so that the Russian People take care of it themselves.

Taking it out on innocent people and hockey players is not the answer. We want them to call home and spread whats really going on not back them into a corner.

Just as the US government recognized last week when they expanded travel sanctions to influential Russians , but flatly refused to ban All Russian tourists because it will work against you if you do that. Banning them would turn Russians sympathetic to Ukraine away and into more Pro Russia.

Remember WWII? Nationalism is a powerful tool along with Propaganda that dictatorships use to write the narrative the people see. Keeping lines open to the West for the people is the only way to combat this.

This is how this war will eventually end with the fall of the regime

Denny Thomas

First we did ban russian team that was probably win gold this yr at world jrs. Second we let a Canadian jr team win gold yet the jr organization is under 6 accounts of sexual international investigation assualt charges and your ok with that ? Im not, i bleed canada even though im first nations. I love hockey. Lets make this clear. As a true canuck fan you forget Bure had to pay millions from his salary to come to van, so we know what the Russians do to their players. As a country so invested in the war, why get involved. Those who apose us to not getting involved, make them fight, guarantee they wont leave my country to fight for theirs. Heck by the millions they ran away. Most importantly war only makes the rich, richier. Look at canada a so called poor young country and look at the billions they just gave the Ukraine to fight. Talk about a subject to argue about. Fix and heal your country shame, simulation, and murder before you run off giving billions to a third world country who gives us nothing.

Mike

I hate this narrative, by having Russian players on your team you support a war? Punishing individuals based on their country of birth is ridiculous. You think Putin is going to change strategies based off a player decision made by the Vancouver Canucks?

This is the same mentality that caused Japanese immigrants to be imprisoned during ww2. Obviously not to the same extreme but it’s still punishing an individual for the decisions of their political leaders.

Scott

How is this guy a writer? Banning Russians from sports isn’t going to do anything but create division more.

“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.”

This made me laugh, this “writer ” really thinks one could argue it helps prolong the war 🤣 please don’t do any more articles on politics is definitely not your strong point.

Last edited 1 year ago by Scott
Vincent Jericho

Ban all Canadian Players untill Trudeau resigns…

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