Mac Engel: Vladimir Putin has turned the NHL's Russian tough guys into a roster of meek cowards

Mac Engel, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Hockey

FORT WORTH, Texas — His name was Roman Lyashenko, and the ruling was suicide.

He played 122 games for the Dallas Stars from 2000 to 2002. After 17 games with the New York Rangers, he was dead.

On July 6, 2003, Lyashenko left a note in his Turkish hotel room where he was discovered after he hanged himself during a family vacation; his suicide note said he had an incurable disease.

The doctors who completed the autopsy found no disease.

Those with the Dallas Stars at the time suspected this was not a suicide and that Lyashenko was a victim of foul play that is not entirely uncommon in Russia.

Today’s Russian-born players are free to come to North America and play in the NHL, but they do not enjoy the same freedoms as their teammates.


This is the reach of Vladimir Putin.

As the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs continue, you will notice the continued silence from its Russian stars, most notably Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.

The same for Dallas Stars winger Denis Gurianov and Alexander Radulov.

They do not want to talk about Russia’s war with Ukraine, which is now in its third month.


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