The idea of politics and the NHL cross paths

Russia. Collusion. Obstruction of justice. “Act of War”. You can’t dismiss this stuff and it’s still coming to fruition through Special Counsel Robert Mueller as well as House Intelligence committee hearings and such. Perhaps you look past this or perhaps you turn away from politics in general; there are other things in this world worth attention that aren’t the complication of politics and the riff-raff of the them-vs.-us partisan fray.

Sports are a relief. In one case, though, a sport is in unstated “what-if?” territory.

I love hockey. I started blogging about it 14 years ago this month (and walked away from it in October of 2016). The constant action and necessary skill set it stands above that of the other pro sports in my opinion. No, it’s not the most popular sport in the United States but it has its niche and those who dedicate time to watching it may grow to appreciate it.

It’s an international property, bringing talent in from Europe (and Australia this year). Politics have had a hand in player availability from Europe in days gone by. You can thank the Cold War for that. It wasn’t until 1992-93 that talent from the ending U.S.S.R. started wide availability to the NHL. You can thank the likes of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin among other leaders and politicians for moving forward and thawing a different kind of ice in the world.

Now, what happens if that comes back to reality; the divide between the United States of America and what is now the Russian Federation?

The NHL has blossomed competitively with the open-world providing it talent. What happens to the league and the game if hostility grows? How much does nationalism play in on participation? How many allies would side with Russia in breaking away?

Quanthockey lists 35 players in the NHL at the moment. You can review the names and the stats here. That number might not impress but the names and stats are major. It’s no surprise Alexander Ovechkin is the front-runner in all-time production, it might be a surprise to learn he’s a big  time Vladmir Putin supporter. Very big. With someone so invested in a divisive political cog, would they flock back to the Motherland to continue their career and show national support? That plays out for the multitude of others who currently play in the NHL. It applies to those who are from countries that might side with Putin if a political wall was to be erected.

The state of America is politically marred at the moment. I don’t need to give details, just know that the Executive Branch is in the crosshairs for its corruption. This keeps things as-is (or should at least) until 2019 at earliest. The Executive Branch, be it commanded by Donald Trump or Mike Pence, has gotten favor for Russia in gaining aid to secure their place in the White House. It’s after they leave the White House where things truly become a true question of how America will act – if at all – in response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

That, for the moment, likely should prevent anything besides the norm in the NHL and KHL: Players from both countries will participate in either league. It’s if and when the political divide truly lays out in public view that we could see changes in participation in the sports world as well as complications to diplomatic relations.