The controversial attitude of the leaders of Slovak hockey towards calling up players from the KHL to the national team has an unexpected continuation. One of the members of the executive committee of the Slovak Hockey Association stated that he did not know that a vote was taken on the matter, even though he participated in the meeting…
On Thursday, the executive committee of the Slovak Ice Hockey Association voted at its meeting that playing in the KHL is not an obstacle to Slovak hockey players being able to continue representing in the national team.
The Slovaks thus decided the opposite of the Czechia, Finland, Sweden, Latvia or France, whose hockey associations agreed that players who signed a KHL contract after the Russian invasion of Ukraine would not wear the most valuable jersey.
However, executive committee member Michal Handzuš, world champion in 2002 and Stanley Cup winner with Chicago in 2013, disagreed with the verdict.
“I respect that, but this position is in conflict with my values. Therefore, under these circumstances, I cannot imagine continuing to work in any union capacity,” Handzuš said in a statement on Tuesday and decided to resign.
However, the remarkable story does not end there. Branislav Semenčík, another member of the Slovak hockey generals, responded to Handzuš’s departure on Tuesday evening, claiming that the executive committee did not vote at all on the issue of Slovaks in the KHL…
“I was surprised by the statement of some media that the VV SZLH had already decided. Yes, the VV SZLH also dealt with this serious topic at its meeting. But since the two oldest and most experienced members of the VV SZLH excused themselves from the meeting for work reasons, all participants in the meeting in led by SZLH president Miroslav Šatan, they thought that with such a serious topic and a serious decision, they would wait for the next joint meeting of the complete SZLH VV,” Semenčík, otherwise also the chairman of the hockey club HOBA Bratislava, wrote on social networks.
“Only the subsequent executive committee of the SZLH should have issued a joint opinion on the start of players from the KHL in the jersey of the Slovak national team,” added the official.
The mentioned two absent VV members are Dušan Mráz and Rudolf Hrubý, who was at the Champions League match in Finland at the time of negotiations with the Slovan Bratislava team.
After Thursday’s meeting, the SZLH issued the following statement: “The SZLH Executive Committee and the Slovak Ice Hockey Association will always respect international agreements and the applicable laws of the Slovak Republic. The players currently playing in Russia do not violate any international agreements or our laws.”
At the same time, he also referred to the Olympic Charter, according to which sport should unite society. “Attacks and hostility towards athletes are unacceptable, just like any military conflict. That’s why we will continue to select players for the national team according to their current form and not according to the league in which they operate,” added representatives of the Slovak union.
However, the union’s partners, including long-time sponsor Orange Slovensko, and the Ministry of Education, which threatened hockey with the loss of state support, do not agree with this position.
After Handzuš’s resignation, the SZLH executive committee has eight members, in the event of a tie vote, the position of President Šatan is decisive.
Eight Slovak hockey players currently have valid contracts in the KHL. Goalkeepers Adam Húska, Patrik Rybár and Július Hudáček, defenders Christián Jaroš and Michal Čajkovský and a trio of forwards Samuel Buček, Adam Liška and Michal Krištof.