Libor Sulak and Dominik Hasek share the bond of being Czech nationals and former Detroit Red Wings. However, when it comes to their views on Russia and about Czech players playing in the KHL, they find themselves situated at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Hasek is adamant that his fellow Czechs shouldn’t be performing for KHL teams, feeling it comes off as tacit support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s also a philosophy that the Czech government and the country’s ice hockey federation is embracing.
Detroit Red Wings legend Libor Sulak https://t.co/FylDxylBgn
— Tyler (@Sealdog91) March 16, 2023
Those Czech players who are choosing to sign with KHL teams are being ruled out of any chance to play for the Czech national team. That is taking on added significance in the upcoming season. The IIHF World Championship is going to be held in Czechia.
For his part, Sulak is of the opinion that this ban is both an overreach and an overreaction.
Sulak Thinks Hasek Is Overreacting
“I can’t play for the Czech Republic now that I’m working in Russia,” Sulak was reported saying by isport.cz. I’m a hockey player, I like it here. I want to play and do what I can in a quality league. It’s possible that someone doesn’t like it, but what should I do?”
Sulak, 29, split the 2018-19 season between the Red Wings and the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. He would make an appearance in six games for Detroit. Next season, he’ll be playing for Avangard Omsk of the KHL, a move that Hasek is adamantly opposed to for all Czech players.
“I don’t know what Hašek has in his head,” Sulak said.
Hasek Hits Back Hard
If Sulak really was anxious to know what was on Hasek’s mind, the legendary former Red Wings goalie was happy to oblige.
“Libor, your work creates values in the enemy’s country and he uses those values against us and our allies,” Hasek posted on Twitter. “Because of your work in Russia, my family’s life is in greater danger and more Ukrainians will be killed. I blame our legislators for not protecting us from your dangerous actions.”
It isn’t only Hasek that is taking issue with Czech players making the decision to play in Russia. Former NHLer Jiri Hrdina, a three-time Stanley Cup winner and now a scout for the Dallas Stars, took Sulak to task on social media.
“He says he doesn’t know what’s going through Hašek’s head…wow,” Hrdina posted. “You guys, what’s going through your head when you see what Russian terrorists are doing in Ukraine?”
Hasek Regrets Not Doing Homework On Russia
Former Red Wings defenseman Viacheslav Fetisov, today a member of the Russian State Duma, is also critical of Hasek, pointing out that the netminder was closing out his playing career with Spartak Mascow of the KHL in 2010-11. Hasek is now admitting that he should’ve been more aware of the politics of Russia during his playing days.
Congratulations to "Dominator" @hasek_dominik, our 🇨🇿 ice hockey legend, #NAFO fella and great supporter of the Ukrainian freedom, for nomination for the Czech State Medal of Merit by the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. 🇨🇿💙💛🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/wqRZKm2aWs
— Martin I. (SaveLivesUA.eu) 🚑🇨🇿🇺🇦 #NAFO (@MartinWartdog) August 3, 2023
“I would like to protect myself in this situation,” SportsExpress.ru reports Hasek as saying to Seznam Zpravy. “I did not know what would happen next in Russia when I made the decision to continue my career.
“At the moment I understand and admit that I could have been more educated and knowledgeable. If the politicians of our country explained the situation to us and established clearer rules, then everything would be different.”
Sulak Compares Omsk Rink To LCA
This is going to be Sulak’s first season with Avangard Omsk. Already, he’s comparing the club’s home rink to Little Caesars Arena.
I played in Detroit when they just opened a new arena,” Sulak explained to Sportexpress.ru. “In Omsk, the conditions are exactly the same: a good gym, great food, saunas, a large swimming pool, a spacious dressing room. I really like our stadium and the city itself.”