The NHL’s Global Series games between the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Prague, Czech Republic, next month may be affected by Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine. According to a report from ESPN, the Czech government has informed the NHL that Russian players will not be able to travel for the games.
In a statement, the Czech Republic’s deputy foreign minister Martin Smolek said that the country had told the NHL that it would not provide Russian players travel permits for the games.
Smolek stated in his statement, “We can confirm that the Czech Foreign Ministry has addressed a letter to the NHL to emphasize that, at this time, the Czech Republic or any other state in the (visa free) Schengen zone should not give visas to the Russian players to enter our territory.
On October 7 and 8, the Sharks and Predators will play their first regular-season games at the O2 Arena in Prague. The final rosters for each team in the NHL have not yet been finalized, but the players most likely to be impacted by the Czech government’s decision are forwards Yakov Trenin of Nashville and Alexander Barabonov and Evgeny Svechnikov of San Jose.
Dominik Hasek, a Hall of Fame goaltender from the Czech Republic, has been vocal in his desire for the NHL to exclude Russian players from competing in the Global Series.
“The NHL San Jose Sharks vs. Nashville Predators game should be held in Prague in October,” Hasek tweeted in April. “Given the circumstances, I will consider it an unacceptable act if the NHL allows any Russian player to play in this match.”
Hasek further stated that he would fight hard “to prevent this match from taking place in our country.” According to Hasek, this included meetings with government officials.
The Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets are also scheduled to play Global Series games in Finland later this year, but the country has yet to develop a formal policy about Russian sportsmen competing in those games.