Finland, Sweden to drop players from Russian hockey league teams

Finnish, Swedish hockey players playing in Russia-based league will not be chosen for national teams, associations say.

Two players fight for the puck
Finnish club Jokerit withdrew from the KHL in late February, days after the invasion [File: Matti Raivio/Lehtikuva/Reuters]

Finnish and Swedish ice hockey players playing in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and other leagues in Russia will not be selected for their national teams, the two countries’ ice hockey associations have said.

The move followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow describes as a “special military operation”.

“The position of the Finnish Hockey Association is that players playing in Russia next season will not be able to play for the national team,” the Finnish Ice Hockey Association said in a statement on Monday.

Finnish club Jokerit withdrew from the KHL in late February, days after the invasion.

The Swedish Ice Hockey Association (SIF) said it was leaning towards not selecting Swedish players plying their trade in the KHL, but will make a formal decision after the season ends.

“But what we can now state is that none of the players who participated during the playoffs in the KHL are eligible for the World Cup tournament in Finland,” the SIF said in a statement.

Finland is hosting the 2022 men’s World Championship from May 13-29.

As many as 31 Finnish and 30 Swedish players were on KHL rosters, according to the league’s website, but only a handful remain following Jokerit’s withdrawal and several players choosing to leave their clubs following the invasion.

Finland’s men’s ice hockey team won Olympic gold in Beijing in February, beating the Russian Olympic Committee team in the final. Sweden finished fourth.

Source: Reuters