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Ex-Flyer Fedotenko worries about ‘surreal’ attack on Ukraine homeland; NHL denounces Russia

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Ruslan Fedotenko, Philadelphia Flyers
Winger Ruslan "Rusty" Fedotenko, a Ukraine native, had two stints with the Philadelphia Flyers: Photo courtesy of Flyers.

Forward Ruslan “Rusty” Fedotenko had two stints with the Philadelphia Flyers and won the Stanley Cup while playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins during a 12-year NHL career.

But his championships and his NHL seasons are not on his mind these days.

War is.

Fedotenko, 43, is a native of Ukraine, whose country has been attacked by Russia and has him praying for relatives and friends who are still in his homeland.

“It’s just mind-boggling,” Fedotenko told the Athletic from his home in Tampa. “It’s surreal. You can’t imagine it’s happened.”

The NHL on Monday suspended business relations with Russia.

In a statement, the league said it “condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible. Effective immediately, we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia, and we are pausing our Russian language social and digital media sites.”

In addition, the NHL is discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL.

Meanwhile, the International Ice Hockey Federation on Monday suspended Russia and ally Belarus indefinitely from every age category until further notice. As it stands, the 2023 World Junior Championships will be pulled from Russia.

Concern for Russian players

The NHL said it was “concerned about the well-being of the players from Russia, who play in the NHL on behalf of their NHL clubs, and not on behalf of Russia. We understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position.”

Athletes from around the nation, including Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin, who is Russian, have spoken out against Russian President Vladimir Putin for attacking a sovereign nation.

Ovechkin, a future Hall of Famer who could become the greatest goal scorer in NHL history, said he has friends in both Russia and Ukraine.

“Please, no more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war – Russia, Ukraine, different countries – we have to live in peace,” Ovechkin said.

In the past, he has shown support for Putin.

“He is my president,” he said the other day. “But like I said, I’m not in politics. I’m an athlete. I hope everything is going to be done soon. It’s a hard situation right now for both sides.”

Fedotenko is one of eight players from Ukraine who have played in the NHL. His final NHL season was in 2012-13 with the Philadelphia Flyers. He spent his first two NHL seasons with the Flyers, scoring 16 goals in 2000-01, and 17 the next season before playing for Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and the New York Rangers.

In his career, Fedotenko finished as the second-leading goal-scorer (173 goals) from Ukraine. Dmitiri Khristich is No. 1 with 259 goals for four teams – Washington, Los Angeles, Boston and Toronto.

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