Every year during the NHL offseason, the Stanley Cup goes on its own world tour as players and other members of the winning team take the championship trophy back to their respective home nations. The tour will happen again this year, but two nations will be excluded for their roles in the war in Ukraine.
According to a report by Parker Gabriel of USA Today, the NHL has informed both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche that Russian and Belarusian players on either roster will not be able to bring the Stanley Cup back to their respective countries this summer due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. While the league has opened the door for the Stanley Cup to eventually visit those two nations, such trips will not happen in 2022.
"With respect to this summer, the Cup isn't going to Russia or Belarus," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. "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."
The moratorium on Stanley Cup trips to Russia and Belarus impacts four players across the two teams in the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning features three Russian players, with stars Nikita Kucherov of Maykop and Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tyumen highlighting a group that also includes Mikhail Sergachev of Nizhnekamsk. On the Avalanche, winger Valeri Nichushkin is a native of Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to a wave of economic sanctions and anti-Russian sentiment in the West, with some sports going so far as to. The NHL, though, has supported its Russian and Belarusian players, which continued this week when commissioner Gary Bettman stated that players from those nations would be available for selection in this year's NHL Draft.