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8:35 AM ET

Russian-born players in the NHL have dealt with uncertainty, concern for the safety and well-being of loved ones back home, and harassment by fans, while being expected to speak out against their home country.

Precarious cross-border travel is one of the complex issues the league has faced.

One NHL GM said it was the elephant in the room.

A lot of us aren't qualified to speak on the situation. We kept the conversation out of the public eye out of respect for those players.

As the war continues, here are some of the dynamics going on in the NHL.

Life for players in the NHL

Many Russian players didn't speak to the media after the invasion. Journalists agreed that there would be no Russia questions if Russian players spoke.

Forty Russians made the opening night rosters of the NHL. There are no Ukrainian born players in the league.

The players are more accessible now that the locker rooms are open again. The Russian player said he was in an impossible situation.

The player said that the media wanted them to speak so they could fit their story. They don't understand what we're going through or what our families are going through. I am painted as a bad guy even if I don't support the war if I say I am proud of where I am from. I don't know what I'm supposed to tell.

The player said it was easy to not say anything. He said that the topic of war hasn't been brought up by his teammates in the locker room or on road trips as they just focus on their jobs.

"People want our players to speak up in a certain way, but you're not going to tell someone how to think politically, just like how you avoid conversations about religion or politics at Thanksgiving," one GM with multiple Russian players said. It's strange for the athletes.

Russian players worry about their own security as well as the security of their family. Some teams are doing things behind the scenes to support Russian players. Helping to get visas for family members is one of the things that is included.

The war has had an effect on the earnings of current NHL players. Russian players were not used in all global marketing campaigns. There are few brands looking to do business with Russian-born players as they wait out the climate. Alex Ovechkin is on the verge of moving into second place on the all-time scoring list, and there will be marketing around him this season.

Given his previous support for Putin, and the fact that he still appears with him in his profile picture on social media, there has been a lot of discussion about him. The dynamics for one of Russia's most well known athletes are complex, and there are still concerns over his family back home, which is one of the reasons he hasn't changed his photo.

Travel for Russian players

The unpredictability of travel restrictions did not deter NHL teams from allowing their Russian-born players to travel home. One general manager asked how they would tell a man not to visit his family in his hometown. A lot of us were making sure there were no problems.

The process for applying for visas was more difficult than in the past

Many Russian-born players went to other countries to get their paperwork approved after the U.S. consulate in Moscow stopped issuing visas. One agent said that the US government made it more difficult.

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The Czech foreign ministry initially told the NHL that Russian players wouldn't be allowed in the country because of the war in Ukraine.

The entire team would not go if the Russians were not allowed to go.

The Czech government stopped trying to ban things. They all played in the same place, in the Czech Republic. People close to the players say that they did not experience any hostility and were even stopped for autographs by fans.

At the league level

The NHL ended all business relations with Russia after condemning the Russian government following the February invasion. The league office separated the actions of the Russian government and the league's Russian players. Extra security has been added to the NHL's players.

A World Cup of Hockey will be hosted by the NHL and NHLPA. The NHL and NHL Players' Association are hopeful that they can find a solution that will allow Russia to compete under a neutral name. Other countries don't think that's satisfactory and they want no Russian player participation at all.

"Especially since the NHL didn't go to the last two Olympics, playing in this tournament is very personal for Russian players," said Dan Milstein, who represents a majority of the Russian players in the NHL. I will work with everyone to find a solution. We will keep fighting until the end. It's unfair to not include the players in this important issue.

The KHL issue

Most of the Kontinental Hockey League's teams are based in Russia and that is a concern for the NHL. The NHL and the KHL have a good relationship. The NHL could have sent a team to Russia for exhibition games or reintroduced a KHL/ NHL event. The league has ended all business relations with Russia.

The NHL and KHL had a Memorandum of Understanding that required them to respect each other's player contracts. NHL executives wondered if that might change since no KHL team has violated that memo. "I want to see what happens this season, I want to watch it," he said. I don't know which way to go at the moment.

If a player isn't happy with his playing time, who's to say he doesn't just bolt home and sign a contract over there? It is a real possibility now.

Ivan Fedotov

Ivan Fedotov, who was expected to compete for Philadelphia's backup goaltending position, was caught up in the geopolitics. The Russian Army considers Fedotov to be an extension of them and he played for them last season. Fedotov was arrested and sent to a military base after skating at a rink in St. Men who are 18 to 27 years old in Russia must serve in the military if they have an exemption. Fedotov was taken into custody due to military evasion.

Washington Post Russia correspondent Mary Ilyushina said that this type of snatching and sending young men to bases has been used as a way to retaliate against opposition figures in Russia. Abandoning a Russia club for an American one could be the reason for it.

A military lawyer said that Fedotov was hospitalized after getting some kind of injections. Fedotov has been moved somewhere else. His legal team dropped his appeal for the charges of evasion, and according to sources, he is hopeful that after serving a year in the military he will be released and allowed to come to the US to start his NHL career.

This could be the first instance of the NHL and KHL Memorandum being violated, as the league is following closely. It is possible that Fedotov could be required to play for CSKA Moscow.

The general manager said that he's more concerned for the younger players in the league than for the older players. The GM said that they seem more vulnerable to being caught up with military service. There used to be a real concern about getting those guys over here and signing contracts.

The draft and Russian prospects

Russians were predicted to be shut out of the first round of the NHL draft for the first time in a decade, according to many in the scouting community. Three Russian players were selected in the first round of the NHL draft. It is easy for NHL teams to draft players who are already in North America.

Miroshnichenko is more risky than others. He was once projected as a lottery pick, but dropped because he was still in Russia playing in the second division last season and because he will miss the 2022-23 season due to cancer. The upside was too much to pass up and he was selected by the Caps.

The stock of Matvei Michkov will be interesting to watch as he plays in the KHL this season. It's difficult to know how many organizations have a Russian presence as some teams may have consultants on payroll. Michkov will go the entire season without anyone from NHL organizations watching him. The Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and the world juniors in Texas have been well attended over the past two years.

Michkov is a player in the KHL. One veteran amateur scout said that he looked like a world-class talent at those tournaments. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a big drop because of the situation.