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Russian Citizenship Granted to Former Washington Player: What It Means for Foreign Athletes in the KHL

After the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine, the number of foreign hockey players in the competition significantly decreased, however, 46 Canadians, 19 Americans, but also nine Slovaks, five Czechs, four Swedes and one Finn are still active in the KHL. In any case, there is a Russian flag next to Leipsic’s name as of this week. By decree, President Vladimir Putin granted citizenship not only to the former Washington player, but also to American boxer Kevin Johnson, who took the name Vladimirovich in honor of the Russian leader.

Leipsic was fired by the Capitals in 2020 when part of his private conversation was leaked and screenshots of him calling his teammates “wretched” flooded the internet. But even more disturbing were the misogynistic remarks and blunt descriptions of the appearance of specific women.

“Yesterday my friend’s Instagram account was hacked and someone shared pictures of a private conversation I was a part of. I fully realize how inappropriate and offensive these comments are, and I sincerely apologize to everyone for my actions. I am determined to learn from this and become a better person. I will take the time to figure out how to move forward responsibly and meaningfully. I’m really sorry,” wrote Leipsic, but they kicked him out of Washington anyway and the NHL broke his stick over him.

However, he got caught in Russia. He spent the 2020-21 season in CSKA, the next two in Magnitogorsk. And last June, he signed a two-year contract with St. Petersburg. A month later, Russian media reported that Leipsic had written a request for citizenship to Putin. And now the native of Winnipeg already has a Russian passport.

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