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NHL Condemns Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, Suspends Relationships with Russian Partners

The NHL became the latest professional sports league to take a stand against Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, revealing in a press release Monday that it has suspended its relationships with Russian business partners.

“The National Hockey League condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible,” the statement read. ”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.”

The NHL also plans to pull its games from Russian-based Internet company Yandex, which airs the league’s games live and on-demand, for the ”foreseeable future.” According to ESPN, the league will also put its relationship with Russia betting partner Liga Stavok on hold.

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The NHL’s announcement comes after the International Ice Hockey Federation released a declaration of its own on Monday. IIHF said it has banned teams from Belarus and Russia from participating in international hockey events ”until further notice,” and will relocate the 2023 World Junior Championship tournament out of Russia.

Russia launched its invasion of the Ukraine on Feb. 24, generating international backlash, including from within the hockey community. Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin, who is from Moscow, did not denounce Russian president Vladimir Putin, but did make a plea for peace.

“Please, no more war,” Ovechkin said last week. ”It doesn’t matter who is in the war, Russia, Ukraine, different countries, I think we live in a world, like, we have to live in peace and a great world.”

The NHL’s all-time leading scorer Wayne Gretzky also spoke out on Saturday, calling the war in Ukraine "a senseless war" and advocating for the IIHF to not allow Russian players to participate in the World Junior tournament. 

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