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Former NHLer Dmitri Khristich pleads for help in Ukraine: 'You're going to let us be killed'

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Longtime NHL player and Ukrainian forward Dmitri Khristich is pleading for help from Western nations to find peace in his country.

The 52-year-old, who laced up for 811 NHL games, is currently in Poltava, a central Ukrainian city 200 miles from Kyiv that has not yet been invaded by Russian troops.

“Everywhere — in the east, in the south, in the north — there’s a war,” Khristich told The Athletic’s Dan Robson. “It doesn’t really matter if we’re safe or not, because the rest of the country is not safe. That’s the main point.”

Dmitri Khristich spent 12 seasons in the NHL, with most coming as a member of the Washington Capitals.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Dmitri Khristich spent 12 seasons in the NHL, with most coming as a member of the Washington Capitals. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

It has been almost two weeks since the Russians first invaded the neighbouring country, causing over 1,000 casualties, according to the United Nations. Among the 1.5 million Ukrainians that have fled, Khristich’s 15-year-old son Ilya had to find safety in Poland, but Dmitri is staying to protect his homeland. Currently, any Ukrainian man between the ages of 18 and 60 cannot leave the country under martial law.

As Khristich and his wife Oleksandra, who is a first responder, do all they can to help, there is a growing frustration within him as he sees a lack of action from overseas.

“We are just looking at the news and we don’t understand why the West is just sitting and watching how Russians are just destroying Ukraine,” he says. “This is so unbelievable.”

Western countries have shown support through economic sanctions against Russia, but Khristich does not believe it is enough.

“We need help. Like real help,” he says. “You’re going to let us be killed. …We are not here to just sit and watch it.”

In the world of hockey, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has suspended the national teams of Russia and Belarus from international competition, and has removed the 2023 World Junior Championship from taking place in Russia. In the KHL, the Russian-based domestic league, two teams – Finnish Jokerit, and Latvian Dinamo Riga – have left the competition in protest of the invasion.

Additionally, the NHL has suspended all ties to Russian business partners and digital media, while also recently severing any communication to the KHL. Because of the attacks, one NHL agent has also claimed that his Russian clients have faced a number of death threats and harassment from fans.

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