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Are Russian players banned from the NHL? Can they play in the opening game in Prague?

Russian players in the NHL are all clear to play season openers in Czech Republic

Russian players in the NHL are all clear to play season openers in Czech Republic
Eurasia Sport ImagesGetty

Russian players on two NHL teams opening the season in the Czech Republic will be allowed to participate in the two Global Series games in Prague.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Thursday that the Czech government has dropped its attempted ban of Russian players on the rosters for San Jose and Nashville. The move makes it possible for the Sharks and Predators to attend practices and exhibition games in Germany and Switzerland, before facing off at Prague’s O2 Arena Oct. 7 and 8.

While the Czech Republic was one one of the first EU countries to stop granting visas to Russian nationals amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine, and their Foreign Ministry said Russian players would not be granted entry just last week, some exceptions seem to have been made this week.

Commissioner Daly had expressed confidence that Nashville’s forward Yakov Trenin and San Jose’s Alexander Barabanov would play, in addition to Evgeny Svechnikov, who is in training camp on a tryout agreement. Last week, the Predators said they were told not to expect any complications. The Sharks took an uncompromising stance.

Related: When does the 2022-23 NHL season start?

“We’re a team, so if they say some guys can’t go, either we all go or no one goes,” Grier said. “It’s not the players’ fault. They didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t think they should be punished for it. We stand with them, and we’re all together as one in here.”

During the spring, commissioner Gary Bettman said that Russians “are performing in the NHL for their NHL team for NHL fans,” and the NHL never considered banning them, especially that many of them are some of the most talented hockey players in the world.

However, the NHL barred players from taking the Stanley Cup from going to Russia this summer. Valeri Nichushkin was the only Russian player on the Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.

For the 2022-23 season, the NHL is returning to Europe for its first games outside of North America since 2019. Find the full schedule here.


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