The NHL and NHL Players’ Association are teaming up to bring back the World Cup of Hockey in 2024. However, there may not be a Team Russia, which would leave questions regarding Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and other stars.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters in Paris for the NHL/NHLPA European Player Media Tour that Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine may impact the country’s representation at the World Cup of Hockey.
“It’s certainly possible that Russia as a nation wouldn’t be represented in the World Cup,” Daly said, via NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. “There’s a possibility that our Russian players would have the opportunity to participate on some basis, but not be part of a so-called Russia team. Those are hypotheticals at this point. At some point, we’re going to have to make that decision. But we’re not there yet.”
Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2021. The war is still underway. Russian and Belarusian national teams have been banned from several international competitions, including the IIHF World Championships. IIHF president Luc Tardif also said last week that Russia and Belarus will remain barred from international competitions in 2023.
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Although Russia may not get to be its own team, Daly didn’t rule out Russians getting to participate. However, it’s unclear how that would work out or what the team concept would be.
Per QuantHockey, there are 50 active Russian NHL players, including Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov. There are also several Russian NHL All-Stars, including Ovechkin, Kirill Kaprizov, Evgeni Malkin, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Igor Shesterkin and more. In addition, there are also several Russian prospects on the rise or getting ready to eventually join the NHL ranks. Back in 2018-19, Russian players made up four percent of the NHL.
Over the past year, some Russian players have faced controversy while others ran into trouble in their home country. Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov remained in Russia to train for the upcoming season. He had announced that he was leaving CSKA Moscow — a team with close military ties — for the Flyers in 2022-23. While training, he was detained for allegedly dodging draft service and sent to an Arctic naval base. Fedotov is now standing trial. Kaprizov was also reportedly wanted for buying a fake military ID. He had tried to enter the U.S. twice but didn’t have his work visa. He ultimately returned safely to the States.
The league is planning to schedule the next World Cup of Hockey for a 17-day period in February 2024. It would be the fourth installment of the NHL’s tournament and the first since 2016.