Polish Club Polonia Bytom Has Released Five Russian Players After they Refuse to Condemn Attack on Ukraine

As a result of the invasion of Ukraine, the hockey world continues to lay down more and more sanctions against Russian and Belarusian athletes and teams. Earlier today it was announced by Ukrainian agent Dan Milstein of Gold Star Hockey, that the CHL would be banning the drafting of players from Belarus and Russia during the 2022 Import Draft. We now have our first case in Poland, as Polonia Bytom released five Russian players.

Goaltender Danil Babets, defensemen Kirill Kleimyonov and Yegor Rudskoy, along with forwards Ilya Smirnov and Valeri Polinin have all been released by the club. Valeri Polinin was third on the team in points. Smironov had made a quick impact with 13 points in 13 games. Danil Babets had been serving as one of the club’s backup goaltenders. With the help of their Russian five, Polonia Bytom finished with the best record in the MHL, but will now be without all five players for the playoffs.

Bytom official Mariusz Wołosz, reached out to Hokej.net adding, “Players were offered to stay in the club if they criticized and condemned Russia’s military actions in Ukraine. Everyone refused. Therefore, we decided to say goodbye to them.” The team will not be releasing Belarusian brothers Artur Senkevich and Artyom Senkevich, who have grandparents from Poland and are working on acquiring Polish citizenship.

The Polish Hockey Player Association did release a statement. In summary, they support the suspension of Russian and Belarusian national teams, but we should not be blaming or suspending the players from both countries that play in Poland.

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