Czech government stick to their brown-nosing ways

The Czech government told the NHL to tell its member clubs not to include their Russian players on the forthcoming trip to their country.

The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators are supposed to open their seasons Friday, Oct. 7, in Prague’s O2 Arena, with a repeat encounter the very next day.

The Sharks have five players coming out of Russia on their roster, while the Predators have three.

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced they wrote to the NHL head office making this point loud and clear.

Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Smolek released a statement making this point official.

“We can confirm that the Czech Foreign Ministry has sent a letter to the NHL to point out that, at this moment, the Czech Republic or any other state in the (visa free) Schengen zone should not issue visas to the Russian players to enter our territory,” Smolek told Czech publications iDnes.cz and iSport.cz.

Former goalie Dominik Hašek, owner of two Stanley Cup rings and an Olympic gold medallist from Nagano 1998, has joined the Czech government. He also demands that Czech athletes under contract in Russian leagues don’t honour their deals and refuse to play in Russia.

An Associated Press (AP) news item quotes Hašek as tweeting earlier this year: “The NHL San Jose Sharks – Nashville Predators match should take place in Prague in October. If the NHL (given the situation) wants to allow any Russian player to play in this match, I will consider it an inexcusable act.”

Hašek expanded his thought by saying that he would work hard “to ensure that this match does not take place in our country.” He would meet with top Czech government officials to make his point of view known, Hašek added.

San Jose Sharks General Manager Mike Grier’s reaction was blunt and to the point: “We’re a team, so, if they say some guys can’t go over then, either we all go or no one goes. But I’m not anticipating any issues right now.”

In theory, if the Sharks don’t appear for their games, they might lose valuable points by forfeiting, should the Czech government remain stubborn.

“I don’t know how it would go as far as forfeits and things like that,” Grier said. “That’s something for the league to handle. But I’m a pretty firm believer (that) we’re a team here, we’re a group, and it’s not the players’ fault. They didn’t do anything wrong. So I don’t think they should be punished for it.

“We stand with them and we’re all together as one in here. If it comes to that and hopefully it doesn’t — and I’m not anticipating that it will – we’ll do things as a group.”

Sharks’ captain Logan Couture echoed his GM’s view: “My view is we’re a team in here. If we go over there, we want everyone on our team to be there. All the guys that are going to make the team are part of our team.”

Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets (four Russian players) and Colorado Avalanche (two Russians) are supposed to face off in a pair of 2022-23 regular-season games at Nokia Arena in Tampere, Finland, Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5.

Finnish authorities haven’t yet said a word about letting Russian NHL players in but, being candidates for NATO membership, one wonders.

In the case of the Czech government, here’s the main issue: even many of their own country’s citizens are angry about their leaders’ brown-nosing ways so far as both NATO and the European Union (EU) are concerned.

Throughout Czech history, many had issues with politicians who demanded the dismantling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and creating Czechoslovakia in 1918.

The country also offered very little resistance to the Nazi occupation (1939-1945), and during the communist era, her main slogan was “With the Soviets for ever, and no other way,” which they changed after the so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989 into “With the Americans for ever, and no other way.”

Some claim that this ability to bow to superior power has helped the Czechs survive being surrounded by enemies throughout centuries. Considering that Poland and Hungary, next-door neighbours, have been in similar situations and never surrendered, this claim doesn’t hold much water.

And then it reaches such tragicomic scale as to make moronic bans on Russian-born NHL players coming to play hockey in their country.

Meanwhile, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told AP that he has “no concern” with Russian players entering the Czech Republic in two weeks. That, obviously, must have been before he read the Czech Foreign Ministry statement.

Of course, this kind of development won’t have any impact on issues that really matter.

But if it makes the Czechs ashamed of their government enough so as to kick them out, it would help.

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