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NHL won't allow Stanley Cup trips to Russia, Belarus

NHL won't allow Stanley Cup trips to Russia, Belarus
Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche players were told they will not be allowed to take the Stanley Cup to Russia or Belarus during title celebrations. File Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

June 16 (UPI) -- The winners of this year's 2022 Stanley Cup Final will not be allowed to bring the trophy to Russia or Belarus due to the war in Ukraine, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said at a news conference.

The Stanley Cup is perhaps the most well-traveled trophy in sports. Each year, players and staff members from the winning team get to spend two days with the Cup and bring it to their preferred destination.

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The trophy's previous European destinations included Moscow, Kyiv, Ukraine, among many other stops.

Daly made the announcement Wednesday, before the Colorado Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. He said both teams were informed about the trophy's travel limitations.

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"With respect to this summer, the cup isn't going to Russia or Belarus," Daly told reporters. "To that extent, we may owe a cup trip in the future. That can happen [at a later date] like we did with the pandemic, but it's not happening this summer."

Daly said that Russian and Belarusian players will be available for selection in the 2022 NHL Draft, but he wouldn't be surprised if they slipped down the draft order because of "the inability to access them."

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Four Russian players are playing in the Stanley Cup Final, including forward Nikita Kucherov, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev from the Lightning and Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin.

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The cup, which weighs 37 pounds and is 35.2 inches high, is engraved with the names of its thousands of past winners. Three versions of the famous trophy exist: the original Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, the Presentation Cup and a stand-in trophy.

The Presentation Cup is used in victory parades and travels with players. The Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, commissioned in 1892, is on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Vasilevskiy and Kucherov took the cup to Russia in September as part of their 2021 title celebration. The cup took its first trip to Russia in 1997 as part of the Detroit Red Wings' championship travels.

The Stanley Cup Final could run through the next three weeks if it extends to its potential seven-game format.

Game 2 will be Saturday in Denver. Games 3 and 4 will be next week in Tampa, Fla. Game 5, if necessary, will be Friday in Denver. The final two games are slated to be played in Tampa and Denver, respectively.

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