Ukraine crisis: NHL suspends business dealings with Russia

The NHL also announced it would no longer seek to hold "any future competitions" in Russia.

NHL logo (illustrative). (photo credit: Jerry Meaden/Flickr)
NHL logo (illustrative).
(photo credit: Jerry Meaden/Flickr)

The NHL said Monday it was suspending its business partnerships in Russia and pausing its Russian language social and digital media in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine.

Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, began an invasion of Ukraine last week. It has drawn the nation global condemnation and sanctions, including in the world of sports.

The NHL also announced it would no longer seek to hold "any future competitions" in Russia. The league sometimes holds regular-season or exhibition games in Europe, last holding an exhibition in Russia in 2010.

"The National Hockey League condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible," the league's statement said. "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."

 Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko observe training launches of ballistic missiles as part of the exercise of the strategic deterrence force, in Moscow, Russia February 19, 2022.  (credit: SPUTNIK/ALEKSEY NIKOLSKYI/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS) Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko observe training launches of ballistic missiles as part of the exercise of the strategic deterrence force, in Moscow, Russia February 19, 2022. (credit: SPUTNIK/ALEKSEY NIKOLSKYI/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)

The league acted after the International Ice Hockey Federation sanctioned Russia and Belarus, which is supportive of the invasion, banning both nations from upcoming world championship tournaments.

Russian NHL players themselves have come under fire amid the invasion, with goaltending great Dominik Hasek of the Czech Republic recently arguing that the NHL should suspend the contracts of all Russian players.

Some Russian NHL players have been critical of Putin, such as New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin. Others are avid Putin supporters, including Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin. On Friday, Ovechkin, whose family still lives in Russia, said he was against the war.

According to QuantHockey, there are 55 Russian players who have appeared an NHL game this season.