We have a third team in Poland that has now released a player for not condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. GKS Katowice has released Russian defensemen Alexander Yakimenko. The Estonia-born Russian player was given an option to condemn the war but failed to explicitly condemn Russia.
Yakimenko joined GKS Katowice in the offseason, he played the entire regular season for the team. In total he appeared in 39 matches, recording four goals and nine assists. The 25-year-old also played in four playoff games, registering one assist. The defensemen played around Europe, with appearances in Austria, Kazakstan, and Latvia. Though he primarily played his professional career in Russia’s VHL, the second level of hockey in the country. He was the only Russian player on GKS Katowice.
Polonia Bytom had previously released five Russian players, while STS Sanok released their lone Russian player Alexander Mokshantsev. A reminder the player association of Poland did release a statement asking that Russian players in the PHL, not face consequences for the actions of the Russian government. While the Belarusian and Russian players of KH Torun released a joint statement as a team, calling for peace.
The number of Russians in the PHL and Poland will continue to be controversial. Recently TVP Sports 3 announced they would not be airing Krakow’s quarterfinal games due to the 12 Russian players on the team. Krakow recently won the Continental Cup, a first for a Polish club, with Russian players being a key part of the victories.