Report: Larionov calls for Russia to ‘withdraw’ from IIHF over suspension

Russia head coach Igor Larionov looks on during the match against Finland, during their Beijer Hockey Games (Euro Hockey Tour) icehockey match between Russia and Finland in Malmo Arena, Sweden, Thursday Feb. 11, 2021. (Anders Bjuro / TT via AP)

Hockey Hall of Famer Igor Larionov has suggested that Russia “withdraw from the International Ice Hockey Federation” so that it can negotiate directly with NHL teams for the release of its players to represent their country, according to a story out of Russia.

The story on, which was first reported by Szymon Szemberg, the managing director at Alliance of European Hockey Clubs, says the call was in response to the IIHF extending its suspension of Russia and Belarus from participating in the 2023-24 calendar of events.

“We must make sure that we are respected,” Larionov, who coaches Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in the KHL, is quoted as saying in the article, which has been translated for Sportsnet. “And today, the IIHF turned its back on us. This is my personal opinion, but a question arises: why do we need the IIHF at all?”

Larionov added: “Practically all (national team players) are coming from North America. So, we must make the correct decision and start the firm process of leaving the IIHF if we are ready for it.

“The Russian Hockey Federation might cooperate with the International Federation. This will probably be the right approach. But after, we will directly work with the NHL.”

Szemberg, who was the director of communications for the IIHF from 2001 to 2014, suggests Larionov thinks this move would somehow enable Russia to ice a team of NHLers in the World Cup of Hockey.

Russia and Belarus were suspended by the IIHF last year because of the invasion of Ukraine in February. At the time, Russia’s right to host the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championship was also revoked.

On Thursday, the IIHF announced it had “determined that it is not yet safe to reincorporate the Russian and Belarusian Teams back into IIHF Competitions, and that it will not be safe for the upcoming 2023/2024 IIHF Championship season.”

In November, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association abandoned plans to stage a World Cup in February 2024 as they had hoped, saying in a joint statement “it is not feasible” in the current environment.

“The conflict in the Ukraine makes it difficult to deal with the Russian issue, and we’ve certainly heard from some of the participating countries or countries who would participate would have objections to Russian participation in the World Cup,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in October.

The league and union said they hope to stage the event in February 2025.

Larionov, 62, played 14 seasons in the NHL after pushing to leave his native Russia, playing 921 games with the Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and New Jersey Devils, winning three Stanley Cups in Detroit.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed during the Russian invasion.

With files from The Associated Press

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