Federal authorities warns Canadian hockey gamers in Russia, Belarus to go away

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

The forty eight Canadian gamers at the second on KHL membership rosters this season would possibly be the most from any nation exterior Russia.

Forty-4 are having fun with for golf equipment inside Russian and Belarusian borders, with the fully different 4 in Kazakhstan.

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

Canada has been firmly on the facet of Ukraine inside the battle with $626 million in army assist and over $320 million in humanitarian assist since February, as properly imposing monetary sanctions on Russia and Belarus.

“President [Vladimir] Putin’s battle in Ukraine is a battle on freedom, on democracy and on the rights of Ukrainians, and all people, to search out out their very personal 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 costly. Athletes who decide to play and affiliate with Russia and Belarus ought to clarify their selections to the closing public.”

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

“We reside in a world the place people are allowed to make these selections. it is simply a particular person decision associated to an employment alternative,” Winter mentioned. “Has every participant that is gone, push, tugged and pulled and wrestled with different? Yeah, fully.

“on the tip of the day, they’re husbands and fathers who’ve duties to their households. if you are a youthful household with restricted sources because you performed principally inside the minors, there is a want to care in your cherished ones.

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

‘hold away from all journey to Russia and Belarus’

Advisories to hold away from journey to Russia and Belarus had been issued March 5 and Feb. 24 respectively, world Affairs Canada informed The Canadian Press in a press launch.

“Our authorities has been very clear. Canadians ought to hold away from all journey to Russia and Belarus,” mentioned Blanchard. “in the event that they’re in Russia or in Belarus, they ought to go away now. Our capability to current consular providers might show to be terribly restricted.”

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

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

“there have been pretty a little bit of gamers caught inside the crosshairs final yr when all of this occurred. They stayed and did not see any hazard,” Winter mentioned.

“From what the gamers inform me, the environment will not be modified from what it has [been] beforehand. lots of them have balanced that hazard and decided that they’d play there.”

Some gamers turned down provides

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

“everyone has a particular hazard profile,” he mentioned. “I’ve had Canadian and American purchasers flip down enormous portions of money in contrast with what they’re going to make right here.”

there have been fifty three Canadians inside the KHL final season. Seven performed for Latvia’s Riga Dynamo, which collectively with Finland’s Helsinki Jokerit withdrew from the league.

“one factor I clearly do not assist is the battle that is occurring,” mentioned forward Jake Virtanen, who’s on a tryout contract with the Oilers after having fun with 36 video games for Spartak Moscow final season.

“It was one in all many important the rationale why I left. it is a extremely effective state of affairs. Me, personally, i might not return attributable to it.”

Jake Virtanen, seen above with the Vancouver Canucks in January 2021, mentioned he turned down a proposal to play in Russia. (Derek Leung/Getty photographs)

Ukraine supporter america is entangled in a diplomatic row with Russia over a expert athlete.

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

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

Winter says Russians having fun with inside the NHL deters a doable retaliatory detention of a Canadian participant over Canada’s assist of Ukraine, however a McGill affiliate Professor of Political Science says the hazard exists.

“Russia would not have any rule of regulation, so anyone who’s in Russia is usually in hazard of being framed, incarcerated, used as a pawn in regardless of the native authorities, central authorities et cetera decides to do,” Maria Popova mentioned.

common hazard of detention

the hazard of a Canadian hockey participant detained by native, state or central governments is low to common, “however there is a hazard,” she mentioned. “i really feel one factor like what occurred to Brittney Griner is doable. the identical playbook might even be repeated in a case in direction of a Canadian participant for constructive.”

“i do not see why Russia would try and make use of these people as a pawn as a consequence of Canada will not be Russia’s important draw again on this battle,” Popova continued.

“there might even be most probably not any hope that Russia might change Canadian coverage in Ukraine. They know Canada is firmly in NATO, clearly backing Ukraine.”

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

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

“With what goes on on on the earth clearly, we’re listening to that for constructive,” Jay Woodcroft mentioned.

“My brother is in Belarus, so it is not the massive Russian mainland, however they play in that league. he is carved a very good profession for himself there at a extreme stage inside the KHL.”

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