Bettman says Russian players can be picked in 2022 NHL Draft

Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media about the NHL condemning Russia's actions, and clarifies whether Russian players are eligible to be drafted.

Commissioner Gary Bettman says Russian players will remain eligible for this year’s NHL Draft.

Bettman made the comments on Friday during the first intermission of the Tampa Bay Lightning-Toronto Maple Leafs playoff game in Florida.

The draft is scheduled for July 7-8 in Montreal.

The NHL suspended business ties with Russia in February.

“We condemned Russia immediately,” Bettman said. “We severed our business ties, which involved forgoing many millions of dollars. I think it’s fair to point out our players play for their NHL teams, they’re not playing for Russia. They’re in a pretty difficult situation, particularly those that have family back in Russia. That may be hard for a lot of people to understand, but it’s a reality I think you can’t lose sight of.”

There have been sanctions against Russian athletes and sports federations since the country began its invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

The International Ice Hockey Federation has pulled the 2022 world men’s championship and 2023 world junior men’s championship out of Russia and the country won’t be allowed to compete in the events.

Wimbledon also has banned Russian players and the country’s men’s soccer team has been removed from World Cup qualifying.

Bettman said no decision has been made on Russia’s participation in a potential World Cup of Hockey, tentatively scheduled for sometime before the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Meanwhile, Bettman also said the Ottawa Senators are not currently on the market following the death of owner Eugene Melnyk in March. Melnyk’s daughters, Anna and Olivia, are now the owners of the team.

“There’s no urgency. The club’s not unstable,” Bettman said.

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