Los Angeles (AFP) -
Whether it's the Tampa Bay Lightning or Colorado Avalanche celebrating a Stanley Cup Final victory, the Cup itself won't go to Russia or Belarus in the coming months, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Wednesday.
Speaking before the puck dropped in game one of the NHL's best-of-seven championship series in Denver, Daly said league officials had told both teams that their Russian or Belarussian players will have to hold off on taking the Cup home.
Tradition has it that every player on the winning team gets to take possession of the trophy for a day.
But with Russia's invasion of Ukraine heading into a fourth month, and Belarus considered a supporter of Russia's action, Daly said players from those countries wouldn't be able to take the Cup there anytime soon.
'With respect to this summer, the Cup isn't going to Russia or Belarus,' Daly said. 'To that extent, we may owe a Cup trip in the future. That can happen like we did with the pandemic, but it's not happening this summer.'
Three Tampa Bay players are Russian: star forward Nikita Kucherov, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, 2021's playoff MVP, and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.
Colorado winger Valeri Nichushkin is also Russian.
However, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the teams would still be able to draft players from Russia or Belarus in the upcoming NHL drafts.
'They're going to be totally available for selection, just like they are every year,' he said of players from those countries.