By Allan Muir
It was only a matter of time before a member of Russia's hockey community was asked for his take on the country's controversial anti-gay law ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The response was equally predictable.
After being presented Thursday with the 2013 Kharlamov Trophy -- awarded to the NHL's top Russian player, as voted by his peers -- Red Wings' forward Pavel Datsyuk had the hot button question dropped in his lap. His reply, according to Russian journalist Igor Eronko: "I'm an orthodox and that says it all."
That might not be a direct answer, but as Ryan Lambert correctly points out, it's hardly the same as a "no comment." The Russian orthodox church's position on the subject is pretty straightforward: "This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything in our powers to ensure that sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law, because that would mean that the nation has embarked on a path of self-destruction." So when Datsyuk says he's orthodox, well that pretty much does say it all, doesn't it?
Orthodox or not, Russian players understand the lay of the land. The new law, which bars the discussion of gay rights and relationships around children, may be whipping up a media frenzy in the West, but it has been well received in Russia, a country where human rights aren't typically a front-burner issue. And speaking out against the law hours before meeting President Vladimir Putin, as Datsyuk and the rest of Russia's Olympic hopefuls are set to do today, might not exactly be in anyone's best interest.
Now that Datsyuk has come out, as it were, with his position, expect other Russian players to follow a similar tack. None are more respected by their countrymen than Pasha, and if that's the way he's addressing the subject, it's a refrain that will probably become familiar over the next few days.