You are here
Home > News > Canadian Government Tells Hockey Players in Russia, Belarus To Leave

Canadian Government Tells Hockey Players in Russia, Belarus To Leave

According to The, the Canadian federal government has recently advised hockey teams that are traveling to Russia or Belarus to get out as quickly as possible. Toronto Sun. The Kontinental Hockey League roster includes 48 Canadian hockey players. 44 are from Russia and Belarus, while the other four are from Kazakhstan.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 24, 2014. Canada supported Ukraine from the beginning. Canada has provided $626 million of military assistance and $320 for humanitarian aid. “Our government has been very clear. Canadians should avoid all travel to Russia and Belarus,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement to The Canadian Press. “If they are in Russia or in Belarus, they should leave now. Our ability to provide consular services may become extremely limited.”

The ongoing conflict could lead to a situation like Brittney Griner being imprisoned by the U.S. WNBA. Maria Popova Associate Professor in Political Science McGill University in Quebec says that there is a threat to the players. “Anybody who is in Russia is always in danger of being framed, incarcerated, used as a pawn in whatever the local government, central government et cetera decides to do,” Popova said. “I think something like what happened to Brittney Griner is possible. The same playbook can be repeated in a case against a Canadian player for sure.”

Griner was taken into Russian custody on February 17, the day before Russia invaded Ukraine. Popova did add, however, that while there’s a risk for players playing abroad, she doesn’t see a clear reason why Russia would choose to detain more athletes. “I don’t see why Russia would try to use these people as a pawn because Canada is not Russia’s main problem in this war,” Popova said. “There isn’t really any hope that Russia could change Canadian policy in Ukraine. They know Canada is firmly in NATO, clearly backing Ukraine.”

Adrien Blanchard was the press secretary to Melanie Joly, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister. He stated that it is important for players to explain why they choose Russia or Belarus. “President [Vladimir] Putin’s war in Ukraine is a war on freedom, on democracy and on the rights of Ukrainians, and all people, to determine their own future,” Blanchard said. “Athletes who decide to play and associate with Russia and Belarus should explain their decisions to the public.”

Ritchie Winter (player-agent) is located in Alberta and oversees the Kontinental Hockey League’s three current players. He believes that players should be able to make a living.

“We live in a world where individuals are allowed to make those decisions. It’s just an individual decision related to an employment opportunity. Has every player that’s gone, push, tugged and pulled and wrestled with the decision? Yeah, absolutely,” Winter said. “At the end of the day, they’re husbands and fathers who have responsibilities to their families. If you’re a young family with limited resources because you played mostly in the minors, there’s a desire to take care of your family. Sometimes that leads people to the oilfields in Kazakhstan and sometimes it leads them to the KHL.”

According to NBC News, players in Russia often play because their salaries are four- or five times higher than those from the United States. Citing Ketra Armstrong, a professor of sport management and the director of the Center for Race & Ethnicity in Sport at the University of Michigan. “It’s a sad situation in many regards, but it’s not totally beyond the realm of understanding,” said Armstrong. “The amount of money that athletes can make throughout other parts of the world is incredible and almost a no-brainer depending on how good you are and your overall market appeal.”

THC drugs are tested on NHL players. However, CBD is legal. Players who use cannabis are not punished by the NHL. They can be referred to a Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.