Government urges Canadian KHL players to leave Russia and Belarus

Photo credit:Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
1 year ago
On Wednesday morning, the Canadian Federal government warned all Canadian players currently on the Russian and Belorussian teams in the Kontinental Hockey League to get out of those countries.
There are 33 Canadian-born players on 16 different Russian KHL teams, while there are seven different players on the only Belorussian team in the KHL. Out of the 57 players listed at the bottom of the article, 35 are former NHL players. This includes Ryan Spooner, Brendan Leipsic, and Andrew Hammond.
Moreover, there are six players that have played in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, with two making their Leafs debut. The two players who played on the Leafs are Brandon Kozun (Minsk Dynamo), and Brendan Leipsic (Magnitogorsk Metallurg). 
The four players who only played for the Toronto Marlies are Joshua Ho-Sang (Ufa Salavat Yulaev), Ryan Sproul (Kunlun Red Star), Tyler Wong (Kunlun Red Star), and Jack Rodewald (Kunlun Red Star).
Taylor Beck, who plays for Novosibirsk Sibir, also was a Leaf on paper. He was traded from the Nashville Predators to the Leafs for Jamie Devane but was traded with prospects to the New York Islanders for Michael Grabner before the start of the 2015 training camp.
It’s widely known that Russia is in the midst of an ongoing war with Ukraine. Once you add on the arrest and detention of Women’s National Basketball Association’s star Brittney Griner, the country is not a safe place for citizens of countries supporting Ukraine.
So what does that mean for the 57 Canadian-born hockey players on KHL teams? If they do heed the call to return to Canada, they’d be leaving the second-best hockey league in the world. A lot of these guys frankly aren’t good enough to make it to the National Hockey League, meaning that they’d probably fill out the American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League rosters.
They would also have the option to play in other parts of Europe. While not on par with the KHL, both the Liiga in Finland and the Swedish Hockey League in Finland are reputable leagues. There’s also the option of playing in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in Germany or the Czech Extraliga in Czechia, where yes, Jaromir Jagr is still playing.
Below is the list of every Canadian-born player in the KHL. An asterisk denotes an individual who was born in Canada but has a different nationality listed on the KHL’s website. There are also 16 players that play in China that were included, as they’d be traveling to Russia quite frequently.

Canadians on the Belorussian team:

Name:TeamPositionFormer NHL PlayerFormer Leafs Player
Ryan Spooner Minsk DynamoForwardYesNo
Brandon KozunMinsk DynamoForwardYesYes
Shawn LalondeMinsk DynamoDefenderYesNo
Cedric PaquetteMinsk DynamoForwardYesNo
Nick MerkleyMinsk DynamoForwardYesNo
John GilmourMinsk DynamoDefenseYesNo
Mark BarberioMinsk DynamoDefenseYesNo

Canadians on Russian Teams:

Name:TeamPositionFormer NHL PlayerFormer Leafs Player
Andrew CalofKhabarovsk AmurForwardNoNo
Cameron LeeKhabarovsk AmurDefenseNoNo
Andrew HammondChelyabinsk TraktorGoalieYesNo
Darren Dietz*CSKA MoscowDefenseYesNo
Josh CurrieMagnitogorsk MetallurgForwardYesNo
Phillipe MailletMagnitogorsk MetallurgForwardYesNo
Brendan LeipsicMagnitogorsk MetallurgForwardYesYes
Edward PasqualeMagnitogorsk MetallurgGoalieYesNo
Kodie CurranMagnitogorsk MetallurgDefenseNoNo
Jordan WealMoscow DynamoForwardYesNo
Eric O’DellMoscow DynamoForwardYesNo
Filip VaroneMoscow SpartakForwardYesNo
Trevor MurphyNovosibirsk SibirDefenseYesNo
Taylor BeckNovosibirsk SibirForwardYesYes (on paper)
Anthony CamaraNizhnekamsk NeftekhimikForwardNoNo
Michael ChaputNur-Sultan BarysForwardYesNo
Nelson NogierNur-Sultan BarysDefenseYesNo
Jesse GrahamNur-Sultan BarysDefenseNoNo
Christopher BigrasNur-Sultan BarysDefenseYesNo
Linden VeyNur-Sultan BarysForwardYesNo
Corban KnightOmsk AvangardForwardYesNo
Tyler GraovavcPodolsk VityazForwardYesNo
Jeremy RoyPodolsk VityazDefenseNoNo
Scott WilsonPodolsk VityazForwardYesNo
Alex GrantSaint Petersburgs SKA DefenseYesNo
Brandon GormleySochi HCDefenseYesNo
Joe MorrowSochi HCDefenseYesNo
Joshua Ho-SangUfa Salavat YulaevForwardYesYes (in AHL)
Ryan MurphyUfa Salavat YulaevDefenseYesNo
Colby WilliamsVladivostok AdmiralDefenseNoNo
Patrice CormierYekaterinburg AutomobilistForwardYesNo
Brooks MacekYekaterinburg AutomobilistForwardNoNo
Curtis Valk*Yekaterinburg AutomobilistForwardYesNo

Canadians on the Chinese Team:

Name:TeamPositionFormer NHL PlayerFormer Leafs Player
Cliff PuKunlun Red StarForwardNoNo
Matteo GennaroKunlun Red StarForwardNoNo
Jack RodewaldKunlun Red StarForwardYesYes (in AHL)
Liam RossKunlun Red StarDefenseNoNo
Zac LeslieKunlun Red StarDefenseNoNo
Devin BrosseauKunlun Red StarForwardNoNo
Ryan SproulKunlun Red StarDefenseYesYes (in AHL)
Kyle WoodKunlun Red StarDefenseNoNo
Brett PollockKunlun Red StarForwardNoNo
Luke Lockhart*Kunlun Red StarForwardNoNo
Tyler Wong*Kunlun Red StarForwardNoYes (in AHL)
Parker Foo*Kunlun Red StarForwardNoNo
Garet Hunt*Kunlun Red StarForwardNoNo
Ethan Werek*Kunlun Red StarForwardNoNo
Ty Schultz*Kunlun Red StarDefenseNoNo
Jason Fram*Kunlun Red StarDefenseNoNo
Brandon Yip*Kunlun Red StarForwardYesNo
It’s unknown for certain when this war will end. It’s just as uncertain if these 57 players will heed the call and leave Russia or Belarus. If they do, there could be plenty of opportunities in other leagues, but at least it’ll be safer for them.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. Somehow the research and cross-tracking of players between Hockey DB and the KHL website took longer than actually writing the article. So that was fun.
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