Passport Issues Could Potentially Plague NY Islanders and Other NHL Teams

Arizona Coyotes v New York Islanders
Arizona Coyotes v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The ongoing war in Ukraine has affected countless people across the world and could potentially cause issues for the NY Islanders and Russian players across the NHL.

According to a report from Novaya Gazeta Europe, the Russian Foreign Ministry plans to temporarily suspend consular services for Russian citizens based abroad. This means that all Russian citizens living outside of Russia would have to return to the country to renew their passports.

The Russian foreign ministry is denying the report.

If this report were to come to fruition, the Islanders could potentially be one of the most affected NHL teams. The Isles rostered four Russian players all season, Semyon Varlamov, Ilya Sorokin, and Alexander Romanov, recently having Ruslan Iskhakov play in his first NHL and playoff game.

While it may seem like a simple solution to have players renew their passports during the off-season while in Russia, there's a fear that if players return to their homeland, they may not be able to leave the country.

In 2022, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov planned on leaving Russia to join the Flyers. Soon after the news of him preparing to sign with the Flyers, he was detained in his native country, and forced to complete his military service, preventing him from making his way to North America.

In Russia, all men between 18 and 30 are required to complete one year of military duty. While the law is meant for all men, there are typically under-the-table exemptions for the political elite and athletes.

Varlamov is above the maximum conscription age, but Sorokin, Romanov, and Iskhakov are all still eligible.

Even throwing conscription out the window, politicians in Russia could want their top athletes to play in Russia as opposed to North America. Denying them a passport renewal would force them to remain in the country and likely play in the KHL.

Worrying could be all for naught, but returning to Russia to obtain crucial documentation allowing them to make a living in the US and Canada is a bit of a nervy situation for all.