It was an open secret: The Canadian Hockey League announced on Wednesday that players from Russia and Belarus would not be eligible for their circuit’s next European draft, 1ah next July.
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It was only a matter of time before the news was confirmed. On March 2nd, Commissioners from three junior hockey leagues in Canada, Gilles Courteau (LHJMQ), Ron Robison (WHL) and David Branch (OHL), and CHL President Dan MacKenzie met to discuss.
However, at the end of the deliberations it was decided to wait with a decision and instead it was announced that the Canada-Russia series planned for next year had been cancelled.
However, the CHL clarified in its announcement on Wednesday that players who are already part of teams at their circuit would not be affected by this decision and could easily return next season.
World Cup 2023
This decision comes in addition to others that have impacted the world of hockey in recent weeks. It is recalled that the International Ice Hockey Federation (FIHG) Russia has withdrawn the presentation of the Junior Ice Hockey World Championship 2023, which was supposed to be held in Omsk and Novosibirsk in December and January, as well as that of the Senior World Championship of 2023.
Additionally, the process of selecting a backup city for World Juniors 2023 is ongoing and a decision is not expected to be announced this week.
Coming back to the Russian players, Wednesday’s CHL decision doesn’t necessarily deprive them of the chance to come and play in North America. So far, the USHL, the main junior league in the United States, has still not banned its teams from recruiting Russian or Belarusian players.
So technically, they could play in the USHL, which is what some Russians have done over the years, including Andrei Svechnikov and Ivan Provorov. However, the latter had made the leap into Canadian junior hockey after their season in the USHL.
Note that the National Hockey League (NHL) is allowing players from Russia and Belarus to be drafted at their next auction, which will be held in Montreal on July 7-8. However, rumor has it that organizations are reluctant to fish them out given the current uncertainty.