Canada’s Hayton apologizes for leaving helmet on during Russian anthem

Canada captain Barrett Hayton waits for the team photo before the team's practice at the World Junior Hockey Championships, in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)

Barrett Hayton, Team Canada’s captain at this year’s world junior hockey championship, issued an apology for leaving his helmet on during the playing of Russia’s national anthem.

“I’m sorry for leaving my helmet on for the Russian anthem following today’s game,” Hayton said in a Hockey Canada release, “and I apologize to the Russian team and its fans.

“As a leader on this team, I was trying to process the game and evaluate how we can regroup. I was lost in the moment. The Russians played a great game tonight and my actions were not intended to be disrespectful.

“My mistake should not detract from their win. I owe it to my team and all Canadians to be better.”

The incident for which Hayton is apologizing occurred at the conclusion of Canada’s game against Russia, a 6-0 loss for the Canadians.

Removing one’s helmet while an anthem is playing is customary in the IIHF event, but Hayton elected not to.

Russian captain Grigori Denisenko skated to centre ice pointing at Hayton, and had to be escorted back to his team’s side of the ice by an official. Denisenko later refused to shake Hayton’s hand when the two crossed paths in the post-game handshake line.

Hockey Canada emphasized in the release that the incident was not in line with its values.

“Hockey Canada has tremendous respect for the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, its players, coaches, management and fans. We expect our athletes and staff to share and show that same respect.

“Hockey Canada apologizes to the IIHF, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and all Canadians for this incident.”

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