An undercurrent that started mere minutes after the Colorado Avalanche lifted the Cup was that teams did not want their Russian players to return to their homeland for the offseason. It’s a lot to ask players to go even longer without seeing family and friends, but with that country’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing fallout, there was an uneasiness about what could come next.
We don’t know if we’ve come to the nexus on that, but we’re not far away if we haven’t. A Flyers goalie prospect was detained in Russia for having a fake military ID. There was buzz early in the day that the Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov had fled the country in response, though that’s been debunked for now. The story had been that Kaprizov had the same fake military ID that Ivan Fedotov had that got him in the clink.
For the uninitiated, Russian men are required to serve one year in the military, though hockey players always seem to find a way around it. Whether it’s playing for CSKA Moscow (still considered the Red Army team) or taking classes while abroad, there’s a reason you didn’t see Alex Ovechkin running drills back in the day.
So it is a little curious that this has suddenly become a thing, because it’s never been a thing before. Getting the straight story out of Russia is always going to be a trick, so this will have some truly weird twists and turns before it’s over. Perhaps Putin thinks that he’s depriving the West of something if he keeps the hockey players home, though this hasn’t spread beyond this one Flyers goalie who was due to be in the AHL, so far. Which is kind of hilarious, because most of the U.S. won’t even know what’s going on and a good portion of Canada wanted Russian players banned anyway back in 1991. Or maybe it’s just another thing that Putin has completely lost his mind about.
Stay tuned, we guess. It’s not like the Wild’s entire existence hinges on this.