Canadian hockey gamers on KHL groups in Russia, Belarus ought to depart: Ottawa – Nationwide | Globalnews.ca

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2022-09-28 17:33:44

Canadians proceed to play hockey for Kontinental Hockey League groups in Russia and Belarus regardless of the Canadian authorities’s warning to get out of these nations.

The 48 Canadian gamers at the moment on KHL membership rosters this season is essentially the most from any nation exterior Russia.

Forty-four are enjoying for golf equipment inside Russian and Belarusian borders, with the opposite 4 in Kazakhstan.

Russia, with Belarus a supporter, invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

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Canada has been firmly on the facet of Ukraine within the battle with $626 million in navy help and over $320 million in humanitarian help since February, as effectively imposing monetary sanctions on Russia and Belarus.

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“President (Vladimir) Putin’s struggle in Ukraine is a struggle on freedom, on democracy and on the rights of Ukrainians, and all individuals, to find out their very own future,” wrote Adrien Blanchard, press secretary for Overseas Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, in an emailed assertion to The Canadian Press.

“As Canadians, these are values we maintain pricey. Athletes who resolve to play and affiliate with Russia and Belarus ought to clarify their choices to the general public.”

Alberta-based participant agent Ritchie Winter, who has three purchasers within the KHL, says gamers have a proper to make a residing of their occupation as different Canadians do working in international nations.

“We dwell in a world the place people are allowed to make these choices. It’s simply a person choice associated to an employment alternative,” Winter stated. “Has each participant that’s gone, push, tugged and pulled and wrestled with the choice? Yeah, completely.

“On the finish of the day, they’re husbands and fathers who’ve tasks to their households. In case you’re a younger household with restricted assets since you performed principally within the minors, there’s a want to handle your loved ones.

“Typically that leads individuals to the oilfields in Kazakhstan and typically it leads them to the KHL.”


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Advisories to keep away from journey to Russia and Belarus have been issued March 5 and Feb. 24 respectively, World Affairs Canada informed The Canadian Press in an announcement.

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“Our authorities has been very clear. Canadians ought to keep away from all journey to Russia and Belarus,” stated Blanchard. “If they’re in Russia or in Belarus, they need to depart now. Our capability to supply consular companies could change into extraordinarily restricted.”

Dozens of Canadians play in males’s professional leagues throughout Europe yearly. A prime KHL participant could make over US$1 million a yr in wage.

The Canadian Press messaged 9 Canadian gamers within the KHL asking what assurances they’d obtained from that league and their groups in regard to their private security. None responded.

“There have been numerous gamers caught within the crosshairs final yr when all of this occurred. They stayed and didn’t see any danger,” Winter stated.

“From what the gamers inform me, the surroundings isn’t modified from what it has (been) beforehand. Lots of them have balanced that danger and decided that they might play there.”


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He additionally is aware of of gamers who turned down alternatives to play within the KHL this season.

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“Everyone has a special danger profile,” he stated. “I’ve had Canadian and American purchasers flip down huge quantities of cash in comparison with what they’ll make right here.”

There have been 53 Canadians within the KHL final season. Seven performed for Latvia’s Riga Dynamo, which together with Finland’s Helsinki Jokerit withdrew from the league.

“One thing I clearly don’t assist is the struggle that’s occurring,” stated ahead Jake Virtanen, who’s on a tryout contract with the Oilers after enjoying 36 video games for Spartak Moscow final season.

“It was one of many essential explanation why I left. It’s a troublesome scenario. Me, personally, I wouldn’t return due to it.”

Learn extra:

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Ukraine supporter United States is entangled in a diplomatic row with Russia over a professional athlete.

WNBA all-star Brittney Griner, who performs professional basketball for Ekaterinburg within the low season, was sentenced Aug. 4 to 9 years in jail for drug possession.

When she arrived in Moscow on Feb. 17, police stated they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage.

Winter says Russians enjoying within the NHL deters a attainable retaliatory detention of a Canadian participant over Canada’s assist of Ukraine, however a McGill affiliate Professor of Political Science says the danger exists.

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“Russia doesn’t have any rule of legislation, so anyone who’s in Russia is all the time in peril of being framed, incarcerated, used as a pawn in regardless of the native authorities, central authorities et cetera decides to do,” Maria Popova stated.

The chance of a Canadian hockey participant detained by native, state or central governments is low to average, “however there’s a danger,” she stated. “I feel one thing like what occurred to Brittney Griner is feasible. The identical playbook may be repeated in a case in opposition to a Canadian participant for certain.”

“I don’t see why Russia would attempt to use these individuals as a pawn as a result of Canada is just not Russia’s essential drawback on this struggle,” Popova continued.

“There isn’t actually any hope that Russia may change Canadian coverage in Ukraine. They know Canada is firmly in NATO, clearly backing Ukraine.”

Goaltender Andrew Hammond was the latest Canadian to signal with a KHL membership. He joined Chelyabinsk Traktor on Sept. 16.

Craig Woodcroft, the brother of Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft, coaches Minsk’s KHL crew in Belarus.

“With what’s occurring on this planet clearly, we’re being attentive to that for certain,” Jay Woodcroft stated.

“My brother is in Belarus, so it’s not the large Russian mainland, however they play in that league. He’s carved an excellent profession for himself there at a excessive stage within the KHL.”

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Seven Canadians within the KHL wore the Maple Leaf in Beijing’s Olympic Video games in February simply earlier than Russia invaded Ukraine, together with goaltender Ed Pasquale (Metallurg Magnitogorsk) and forwards Corban Knight (Avangard Omsk) and Josh Ho-Sang (Salavat Yulaev).

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