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San Jose Sharks

Grier: ‘Either we all go, or no one goes’



Credit: AP Photo/Josie Lepe

Two weeks before the San Jose Sharks’ season-opening visit to Prague, GM Mike Grier made his stance clear on the possibility of the Czech Republic refusing to issue visas to visiting Russian NHL players.

“Either we all go, or no one goes,” Grier told reporters on the first day of training camp.

This is in response to recent reports that the Czech Republic, in solidarity with Ukraine, would not welcome Russian NHL players into their country for the upcoming Global Series regular season games between the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators. For the Sharks, this could affect wingers Alexander Barabanov and Evgeny Svechnikov, among others.

To the condemnation of most in the international community, Russian president Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in Feb. 2022 and is still waging war there.

Against this backdrop, San Jose and Nashville are set to kick off the NHL’s regular season on Oct. 7 and 8 at O2 Arena in Prague.

“We can confirm that the Czech Foreign Ministry has sent a letter to the NHL to point out that, at this moment, the Czech Republic or any other state in the [visa free] Schengen zone should not issue visas to the Russian players to enter our territory,” Czech Republic deputy foreign minister Martin Smolek said in a statement.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press that he has “no concern” with Russian players entering the  Czech Republic in two weeks.

“I’m not anticipating any issues with our guys being able to go over,” Grier concurred, saying that he’d let the NHL take the lead on it.

But Grier took the lead, at least for the San Jose Sharks organization: “I’m a pretty firm believer [that] we’re a team here. We’re a group. It’s not the players’ fault. They didn’t do anything wrong. So I don’t think they should be punished for it.

“We stand with them and we’re all together as one in here.”

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david barnard

good stance for GMMG to take, i hope he stands by it. it can be hard to separate international competing athletes from politics, but i’ve always felt that these athletes represent their countries in the most positive light, as international sports ambassadors of goodwill and peaceful competition. in this case, it’s the NHL showcasing their product in Europe. that product is made up of members from a multinational representation, and IF certain members are not welcome for political (or any other) reasons, than no matter the $ cost, they should not go. i can only hope that the League will… Read more »

Bob D

I disagree. This is delusional, drawing a line in the sand with the government of another country over a hockey game? Who does he think he is? Ok tough guy, just forfeit the games. I respect the chechs for taking a stand, and not ignoring the Russian slaughter of Ukraine. It doesn’t matter if they are just games for entertainment. We boycotted of the Olympics before for the same reason, but I guess that’s OK because we are always right, or at least righteous. Like it or not, there are Russian players, and like it or not, we are supporting… Read more »


I had no idea Barabanov was killing his countrymen

Bob D

Wow. I thought this forum was better than HFboards


Fully agree with you David. Greer is setting a good tone for the team. And they are a “team” comprised of “people” who should not be held responsible for the actions of their government..


Bummer for Hertl, he was stoked to go.


Here in Czech Republic we were occupied by Russins for 21years. Any civilized citizen even Russian not standing up against the war in Ukraine is not welcomed here. Be it whole team? Fine.

Peter Adler

you were occupied by SOVIETS, and the guy who pushed it at the top was pyotr shelest, the chief of the ukrainian communist party at the time, and the commanding officer was andrei grechko, another ukrainian … except: they were soviets first, and ukrainians second … do your homework first …


You are so desperate liar 🙂


Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, we learned the lesson in Czech Reublic in 1968. All it matters is, who waves the Russian flag today… and pays taxes to Russia, silently/loudly supports the murdering regime, takes part in propaganda and maybe googles some names in history to cover up this masacre. Those are not welcomed.


I understand that he sees the players as individuals, but they represent willingly or not a country that is not welcome outside Russia. You cannot just ignore that.

Considering that they could be mobilized into the army at any moment, he might not need to think about it much longer.

It would be great to see NHL here, but we have not issued visa to Russians since  February 24, and the hockey match cannot be an exception. The opening match in Prague is a mistake this year, I hope so it will work next year.

I don’t understand why professional sports leagues in the United States have to “market their product” overseas. The NHL acts like they are going to award franchises to Prague, Berlin, London and Rome. They won’t. Play the game somewhere else, perhaps the participating teams home arenas in either the US or Canada — what a concept.

If people who live in Europe want to watch the NHL, well … that is why TV contracts were invented.


I have seen the aftermath of Russian occupation first hand from 2 tours in Afghanistan. I have fought for freedom and to defend our American way of life, so I understand completely why the Czech Republic does not want russian players to enter their borders. It breaks my heart that the team I love and have watched since its inception from the cow palace to the shark tank cannot respect where the Czech Republic is coming from. I cannot support a team who so flippantly ignores this simple request or understands the reason they’re making it. Good bye San Jose… Read more »

Frantisek Oliva

Grier’s just incompetent. What he didn’t bother to notice, both of your players actually are welcome to come. As a sanction against Russia and a hopeless effort to end what’s happening, my country is not issuing new visas to the citizens of Russia. Both of your Russian players have valid visas from before the policy. This was just the Czechs informing the teams of this sanction and specifically the Sharks to make sure it doesn’t affect them if they last minute decide to call up someone potentially without a valid visa. News outlets, of course they’d want to pick the… Read more »

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