The NHL is taking a stand against Russia and its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
In a news release Monday, the league outlined measures it has put in place as a reprimand for Russia’s actions.
“The National Hockey League condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible,” the statement read. “Effective immediately, we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia and we are pausing our Russian language social and digital media sites. In addition, we are discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL.
“We also remain concerned about the well-being of the players from Russia, who play in the NHL on behalf of their NHL clubs, and not on behalf of Russia. We understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position.”
Going forward, the NHL intends to pull its games from Russian-based Yandex, one of Europe’s largest internet companies. That partnership goes back to 2019, and the sides signed a multiyear extension earlier this year. Yandex airs NHL games live and on demand as part of its Yandex Plus subscription service; according to the NHL, while it won’t be immediate, the plan is to remove NHL content from the site for the foreseeable future. The league also intends to put its relationship with Russia betting partner Liga Stavok on hold.
Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, generating major international backlash. The NHL’s denouncement of the attacks comes after the International Ice Hockey Federation also issued a decree against Russia on Monday.
In its own announcement, the IIHF said it has banned teams from Belarus and Russia from participating in international hockey events “until further notice,” and the IIHF will also relocate the 2023 World Junior Championship tournament out of Russia.
NHL stars past and present have shared their thoughts on Russia’s invasion and what should be done about it. Washington Capitals forward and Moscow native Alexander Ovechkin, who has campaigned in the past for Russian President Vladimir Putin, made a plea for peace last week, telling reporters, “Please, no more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — I think we live in a world, we have to live in peace and a great world.”
Pressed on his relationship with Putin, Ovechkin said, “he is my president.”
“But I am not in politics,” Ovechkin continued. “I am an athlete and … I hope everything is going to be done soon.”
Hall of Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek, who was raised in the Czech Republic, said he didn’t think Ovechkin’s stance against the war was strong enough. Via his Twitter account, Hasek labelled Ovechkin a “chickens—” and called for harsh measures to be taken against Ovechkin and other Russian-born NHLers.
“The NHL must immediately suspend contracts for all Russian players,” Hasek wrote. “Every athlete represents not only himself and his club, but also his country and its values and actions. That is a fact. If the NHL does not do so, it has indirect co-responsibility for the dead in Ukraine.”
Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, also chimed in on Saturday to call the Russian conflict “a senseless war” and advocated for the IIHF to not allow Russian players to participate in the World Junior tournament.
The 2023 men’s ice hockey world championship is currently scheduled to take place in Saint Petersburg, but the IIHF did not specify on Monday whether that would also be moved.