This year marks the 12th edition of the exciting head to head match up of the best Canadian and Russian junior hockey players. The Subway Super Series began in 2003 with Re/Max as the title sponsor and Nick-name Canada-Russia Challenge. The series was very tilted in favor of the host with a series score of 30-9. It was a big enough blow out that some accused Russia of not bringing their best.
The series is six games between three all-star teams from the CHL (a representative from the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL) and the Russian Selects. Each team from the CHL plays two games in selected CHL arenas. The winners of each game is awarded points; the team with the most points after six games is declared the winner.
Since 2003, the series has taken off. Although Canada has been mainly dominant (winning 9 of 11 series), it has rekindled one of the biggest international hockey rivalries of all time.
Sounds exciting, doesn't it?
There is only one issue, numerous economical and political sanctions imposed on Russia by the international community over the past year. In March 2014, sanctions were instated after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and included a travel ban for Russian and Crimean politicians, officials and prominent members of the business community to the United States, the EU, and Canada. There were two more rounds of sanctions imposed on Russia and Russia retaliated with sanctions of their own.
The issue at hand here is allowing representatives from Russia into the country as it is of benefit to us. This sets a precedent that we, as a society, are willing to look the other way when a country invades another so long as our entertainment isn't impaired.
Now, to be clean: I am not against these young Russian men who are stepping into the international spotlight. This is a great opportunity for players on both sides to get the attention of professional scouts and earn a spot on their national Junior teams for the World Jr. Tournament. My issues is with their Jersey and politics that comes with it. I am not against the players and would like to see another event that doesn't involve the promotion of Russia.
If the international community was serious about putting an end to Russia's invasion of the Ukraine, the international community would include sporting sanctions along with the other sanctions that have already been imposed.
As for me, I have/will not be supporting the series although I am a huge fan of the sport. Unlike the Canada-Russia '72 series, where at least the Canadians believed the game had huge political implications, this series has little to do with politics, pride or hockey supremacy and therefore is unnecessary.