DENVER – When the Stanley Cup makes its way around the globe this summer to spend a day with each member of the championship organization, it will not travel to Russia.
NHL officials informed both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche that Russian or Belarussian players on either roster will have to wait an undetermined amount of time before getting the chance to take the Cup to his home country.
“With respect to this summer, the Cup isn’t going to Russia or Belarus,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said during a news conference ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “To that extent, we may owe a Cup trip in the future. That can happen like we did with the pandemic, but it’s not happening this summer.”
Russia has become increasingly cut off from the Western world since invading Ukraine in February, and the ongoing war has had an impact across sports.
A trio of Tampa Bay players are Russian: star forward Nikita Kucherov, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, 2021’s playoff MVP, and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Colorado winger Valeri Nichushkin is also from Russia, ensuring that somebody from the country is going to win the Cup this year.
On another Russia-related matter, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league had not issued a directive about clubs staying away from drafting Russian or Belarussian players in upcoming NHL drafts.
“They’re going to be totally available for selection, just like they are every year,” he said.
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Daly, though, intimated that he thought those players could see their draft stock take a hit.
“Would it surprise me if somebody slipped based on where they were projected to go based on the inability to access them? Potentially,” he said.