The first on the list of distinguished was Latvia, recalls our associated publication Playmaker.
This is understandable: the smaller the Pug, the louder the Elephant barks. The Seimas of the Baltic Republic recently banned athletes from participating in national and cup competitions in Russia and Belarus. The amendments made to the sports law do not allow citizens of Latvia to compete in tournaments that take place on the territory of these countries. Violators will not be invited to the national teams, and will also be deprived of the opportunity to receive funds from the state budget for training and competitions.
To be honest, it’s not a big loss. The Latvians, who play in the KHL, could still maintain their level, which falls year after year. With Dynamo Riga leaving the league, things will go tangentially for them. In reality, the club survived largely thanks to the help of Russian companies, and will now be begging elsewhere.
Latvia itself is not capable of high-level hockey on its own. They will probably bow to the Danes or Finns to be accepted into their ranks. But they didn’t give up on anyone. Rather, the situation will take a different path: European clubs will dismantle the remains of decent players (by Riga standards), but for much less money than they paid in Russia, and local hockey will die for a long time, fall to a semi-amateur level.
The Finns, who seem to have broken the bar after winning the Olympics, announced their hockey war with Russia. In vain, by the way, we reacted so mediocrely to the preparation of the Olympic team for Beijing, giving guaranteed gold out of nowhere.
Finland introduced a ban on playing for the national team of Russian club hockey players. Most of the Finns left the KHL immediately after the start of the Ukraine events. Among them were the leaders of Salavat Yulaev: Metsola, Hartikainen, Manninen, Granlund, the defenders of Avangard Pokka and Kaski, the goalkeeper of Magnitogorsk Olkinuora and others. But several Suomi legionnaires remained. For example, Lehtonen and Komarov finished the playoffs in SKA, which today receives a share of the criticism at home.
Lehtonen in the Gagarin Cup was a bit of a regular season model. In the weak game of the legionnaires was one of the reasons for the defeat of the Neva army in a series with their Moscow teammates. And now, having received their money in Russia, they decided to be frank.
Mikko said that it was unpleasant for him to continue his performances for SKA, but he stuck it out. He obviously felt such disgust that he couldn’t eat. But he received his salary fairly, and this is actually the reason why Lehtonen didn’t run away home along with most of the players. The defender has a long-term contract with the St. Petersburg club. He agreed with management that he would leave the KHL after the end of the playoffs. If he had done it before, he would have had to pay no less than 160 million rubles for termination, or two and a half million euros. For such a sum, Mikko could fake and maneuver between two fires.
SKA head coach Roman Rotenberg confirmed the information about the pressure on the Finnish legionnaires. The first vice president of the FHR said the players were threatened that they would never be called up to the national team again and called the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation’s behavior disgraceful.
Surprisingly, we are talking about hockey players who brought international victories to Finnish hockey. How quickly the politicians, with the tacit approval of the sports bureaucrats, trampled on all the previous merits of the people, painting everyone in different colors. They write that the wife of Komarov, originally from Russia, will even transfer the children to her surname, and Leo himself is criticized for continuing to play in SKA until the end of the season.
What is this, if not the violation of human rights at the national level? Another Finn from the army, Jonas Kemppainen, played only the first round of the Cup in the playoffs. Then they wrote that he had an injury, but now he assures that the matter is different, that he immediately wanted to leave.
But it didn’t go away. Naturally for the money. All the principles of these citizens very quickly change direction when it comes to their own well-being. Therefore, do not pay too much attention to what they say. SKA bids farewell to its entire legion, which also included Swedish goalkeeper Lars Johansson and Canadian defender Matt Robinson, who played in Russia for many years.
Apparently, Komarov will no longer be invited to the Finnish national team. But Lehtonen was called to the World Cup. So the general manager of the national team, Jere Lehtinen, received cones from the local press. He had to make excuses why such an unreliable character ended up on the Suomi team. But what was he going to do with the contract?
The Finnish Ice Hockey Federation wanted to solve the problem of returning its players through the IIHF. In fact, it was a robbery, but we have to get used to it. Today they rob Russia not only of foreign exchange reserves, but also of living goods. The International Ice Hockey Federation, however, did not agree with the Finns and did not allow unilateral termination of the contracts.
The Swedes do not have such aggressive rhetoric regarding the KHL and their legionnaires in this league. But this is also understandable: this Pug is already larger than the Finn, he barks lower. There was not much pressure on the Scandinavians during the season. It is no coincidence that most of them continued to play in the KHL playoffs. After that, the Swedish federation caught the Finnish example and also threatened to ban those of its athletes who were still playing in the KHL from playing for the national team. “None of the hockey players who participated in the KHL playoffs are eligible to play in the World Championship in Finland,” the statement said.
If the Finns, Swedes and Latvians think they’ve hit our league, it means these guys aren’t right in the head. A decision by Vladislav Tretyak to limit the number of foreign goalkeepers in our championship, made by the head of the FHR at one time, led to the emergence of a scattering of talented Russian goalkeepers. In the NHL, his league club scoring went into the second ten. Now the situation will finally lead to the fact that Russia will soon have great centers and attacking defenders.
Otherwise, our clubs simply did not care about the education of their staff, they preferred to bring all this European garbage into the country. Life itself pushed him to the sidelines. And he deprived all these legionnaires not only of performances in the second most powerful league in the world, but also of decent money.
There is no doubt that such tricks will not work on Canadians and Americans. They both played in the KHL and will continue to do so. North America will obviously have a monopoly on the legionnaires issue. But in any case, we can do without them. KHL after such steps from hostile countries, it would be worth considering a long-term ban on the participation of Finns and Swedes in our league. Latvians can be banned for life. It is another science.
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