Several players are opting to get out of dodge and aren’t returning to play in Russia’s KHL. The political fallout from Russia’s declaration of war on neighboring Ukraine is causing many foreign pros to avoid the area.
Not everyone is turning down the opportunity, however. Two North Americans – forming New York Islanders first-round pick Josh Ho-Sang, and defenseman Ryan Murphy, who was playing last season with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins, are opting to give the KHL a go.
A player familiar to Detroit Red Wings fans is making a return to Russia. Former Red Wings and Griffins forward Teemu Pulkkinen is going to play for Traktor Chelyabinsk and is already working out with the KHL club he played for last season.
Pulkkinen, 30, scored 11 goals in 70 games with the Red Wings from 2013-16. Following additional NHL stints with the Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes, Pulkkinen has been playing in the KHL since 2018.
— KHL TALK (@vorkywh24) May 1, 2021
Former NHL defenseman Ossi Vaananen also was playing in the KHL. Today, he regrets making that decision.
“At that time, everyone was probably a little bit naïve, even though the occupation of Crimea in 2014 should have opened everyone’s eyes,” Vaananen explained to Finnish website Yle.fi. “I myself was an active player at the time and lived in quite a bubble. Ice hockey and my own profession took all the focus.”
Harri Nummela. Chairman of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association, suggested that it was unlikely that Pulkkinen will be considered for national team duty as long as he’s opting to play in Russia.
“It’s hard to see them wearing the Leijonat shirt,” Nummela told Yle.fi. “Each case must be evaluated individually, but yes, the world situation is just as it is.”
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