#FBF: Russian Players Aren’t Russia

This article was originally published on March 3, 2022.

Source: SportsNet

A few nights ago, Sean Kuraly was penalized for slew-footing Evgeni Malkin in the Columbus Blue Jackets vs the Pittsburgh Penguins game. While slew-footing is an extremely dangerous situation that can cause a devastating, career-ending injury to the opposing player, this particular situation could have been interpreted as an American sending a message to a Russian after Russia invaded Ukraine.

If that seems far-fetched, then one may not be aware of the threats including death threats Russian hockey players in the NHL have received since the invasion. NHL player agent, Dan Milstein informed Emily Kaplan of ESPN that several of his clients are experiencing harassment and threats. Even a highly regarded, former NHL goaltender from the Czech Republic chirped after a lackluster plea to end the war from Russian left-winger Alex Ovechkin:

Understandably, Hasek has a valid point, especially considering Ovechkin’s close ties to Vladimir Putin who is the aggressor. But we have to remember Russian athletes who have questioned the actions of Putin and Russia.

Source: Sports Интервью

What we can not do is become like the aggressor. Sanctioning is one thing but threatening, playing in a manner inconsistent with our values or rules of our game, or unnecessarily hurting someone because they’re from Russia is wrong. The goal is to stop the bully and not become the bully.