NHL Player Defends Russian Teammate: 'It's Out of His Control'

National Hockey League player Jordan Martinook defended his Carolina Hurricanes teammate, Andrei Svechnikov, on Tuesday morning as reports stated that Russian-born hockey players have gotten scrutiny amid the crisis in Ukraine.

After Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, criticisms toward Russian-born players have escalated, primarily on social media.

On Tuesday after a morning skate, Martinook shared his support for 21-year-old Svechnikov, telling reporters, "It's obviously a unique situation, and it isn't anything Svech can control. It's out of his hands. Obviously, you want to support him. You've seen it in the league, some are getting some criticism, but for him, he's been here for six or seven years, so he's obviously from Russia but—I just think it is totally out of his control."

"When you try and bring politics into hockey, it's hard for guys to have a stance on it when it is completely out of their control. We'll support him as much as he needs," Martinook added. "If anybody tries to make him feel bad about the situation, then he's got 23 brothers who will stick up for him."

Svechnikov was born in Barnaul, Russia, and has played for the Hurricanes since the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Other Russian-born NHL players have received backlash since the war began last week, including superstar Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. Ovechkin has in past years shown support for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He was called out on Twitter by Hall of Fame goalie and Czech Republic native, Dominik Hasek, who called Ovechkin a "liar" for recently speaking out against the war.

Hasek tweeted, "The NHL must immediately suspend contracts for all Russian players! Every athlete represents not only himself and his club, but also his country and its values and actions. That is a fact. If the NHL does not do so, it has indirect co-responsibility for the dead in Ukraine."

The NHL released a statement on Monday condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and urging a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible.

"Effective immediately, we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia and we are pausing our Russian language social and digital media sites. In addition, we are discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL," the statement read.

"We also remain concerned about the well-being of the players from Russia, who play in the NHL on behalf of their NHL Clubs, and not on behalf of Russia. We understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position," the NHL added in its statement.

Newsweek reached out to the Carolina Hurricanes for comment.

Edmonton Oilers v Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook defended teammate Andrei Svechnikov as Russian-born NHL players receive significant scrutiny amid the Russia-Ukraine war. Here, Teuvo Teravainen, No. 86, celebrates with Svechnikov, No. 37, after scoring a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period of their game at PNC Arena on February 27 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Grant Halverson/Getty Images