Hall of Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek has once again called out the NHL for giving a spotlight to Russian players during the country's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
During the 2023 NHL Skills Competition on Friday night, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby teamed up in the Breakaway Challenge. The pair of NHL legends skated down the ice with Ovechkin's 4-year-old son, Sergei, and let him swat the puck past legendary goaltender Roberto Luongo and into the net.
For many people watching the event, it was a fun moment involving two of the best players in NHL history. However, Hasek saw it in a different light. One day after the skills competition, Hasek tweeted out a photo of Sergei Ovechkin scoring the goal and slammed the NHL, as well as commissioner Gary Bettman, for glorifying the Russian All-Star and his son.
The @NHL has sunk to rock bottom! Letting Ovechkin's son perform on the ice at the NHL All-Star is spitting in the face of approximately 500 killed, thousands injured and tens of thousands of kidnapped Ukrainian children. The NHL and Gary Bettman must pay for this heinous act! pic.twitter.com/XiiuP8dA8Z— Dominik Hasek (@hasek_dominik) February 4, 2023
Ovechkin does have a history of supporting Russian president Vladimir Putin. In 2017, Ovechkin began a social movement called PutinTeam to support Putin's bid for re-election. Ovechkin's profile picture on Instagram is still a photo of him posing with Putin.
While Ovechkin has been a supporter of Putin for much of his career, the Washington Capitals star did come out against the war in February of 2022. After Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, Ovechkin referred to Putin as "my president" and stated that it was a "hard situation right now for both sides" before calling for an end to the war.
"Please, no more war," Ovechkin said. "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 a great world."
Hasek, a Czech native, has called for the NHL and other professional sports leagues to ban Russian athletes from competing until the country ends its invasion of Ukraine. In October, the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks played the NHL Global Series in Prague, Czech Republic, and Hasek said it would be an "inexcusable act" to let Russian players participate.
Despite Hasek's criticisms, the NHL has not placed sanctions of any kind on Russian players.