Czech Republic: Russian NHL players unwanted

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For the first time since the corona pandemic, the NHL is back in Europe to organize regular season matches. In the Czech capital Prague, two meetings between Nashville and San Jose will be played on October 7 and 8.

But the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not want to welcome the Russian players.

“We can confirm that the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a letter to the NHL to point out that the Czech Republic or other countries in the (visa-free) Schengen area should not issue visas at this time to the Russian players to enter our territory,” writes Martin Smolek, vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, in a statement.

The legend driving

AP writes that the department has declined to answer whether the NHL has returned with an answer.

Czech goalkeeper legend Dominik Hasek has long been driving the issue. Hasek has said in an interview earlier this year that he will do everything he can to prevent the matches from being played in the Czech Republic if Russian players are allowed to participate.

On Twitter, he wrote earlier this week that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had sent a letter to the NHL. Something that is thus confirmed by the ministry.

“Last week, the State Department sent a letter to the NHL’s Gary Bettman and Bill Daly that it is not in the Czech Republic’s interest to allow Russian players to come to our country and play games on October 7 and 8. We do not want to promote Russian aggression here. We primarily want to protect our lives and those of our allies,” Hasek wrote.

Russians in both teams

No big Russian stars play in the team, but the country is nevertheless represented in both teams. Forward Jakov Trenin plays in Nashville and forward Yevgeny Svetchnikov plays in San Jose. San Jose also has running back Nikola Knyzjov, who is injured and unavailable for the game, however.

In addition to the matches in Prague, Colorado and Columbus will play two matches in Tampere on November 4 and 5. The Finnish government’s position regarding the Russian NHL players is currently unclear.