The National Hockey League (NHL) has suspended ties with Russian commercial partners and suspended Russian-language coverage of ice hockey action.
The league upheld the decision on Monday, in response to the country’s continued invasion of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to launch a military assault on his neighbor in the early hours of Thursday morning, with hundreds of civilians having died in the conflict since.
His actions have been widely condemned, including in the sports world where various leagues, clubs and governing bodies have all taken action.
The NHL is the latest to take such a step, announcing that it has now ruled out any consideration of hosting future league competitions in Russia.
“The National Hockey League condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as soon as possible,” the league said in a statement.
“With immediate effect, we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia and we are suspending our social and digital media sites in Russian.
“Furthermore, we stop considering Russia as a venue for future competitions involving the NHL.
“We also remain concerned about the well-being of Russian players, who play in the NHL on behalf of their NHL clubs, not on behalf of Russia.
“We understand that they and their families are placed in an extremely difficult position.”
The NHL action comes after the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) banned Russia and Belarus from all tournaments “until further notice.”
The ban covers all age groups, from junior teams to their flagship groups, while Russia were also stripped of the 2023 World Junior Championships.
While NHL teams are based in the United States and Canada, many of the league’s best players hail from Russia.
That includes 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy recipient Andei Vasilevskiy, as well as recent Hart Trophy winners Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Nikita Kucherov.
The day after Russia launched its invasion, Ovechkin used a press conference to implore the leaders of his native country to cease hostilities.
“It’s a difficult situation. I have family in Russia and these are scary times,” he said. “But we can’t do anything. We just hope it will be over soon and everything will be fine.
“Please, no more war. 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 in a big world .”