Ruslan Fedotenko. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)
Donbass Donetsk, which normally plays its home games in the city of Donetsk in the East of Ukraine, has been forced to play its home playoff games in a neutral site because of the ongoing crisis in the country.
The Kontinental League’s only team based in Ukraine, Donbass Donetsk, advanced to the second round of the Gagarin Cup playoffs with a win Monday night. They eliminated Dinamo Riga in the seventh game of the best-of-seven series.
But, due to the political crisis in their country, Donbass hasn’t been able to play in their home arena. They’ve instead been playing out of Slovan’s rink in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Donbass’ next round of games begins Thursday against Lev Praha, but their first “home” game isn’t until Sunday. According to the report by rsport, KHL vice president Vladimir Shalaev said Donbass can either keep playing out of Bratislava, or move to another arena for the time being.
Donetsk, in the mainly Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, is being rocked by violent clashes between pro-Russian protesters who want closer ties with Russia and pro-Ukrainian activists who do not.
This, of course, is a minor inconvenience compared to the very real and very dangerous social and political upheaval taking place in Ukraine, which has been provoked by Russia.
The Donbass team is coached by Andrei Nazarov and has a few former NHLers on the roster, such as Michael Leighton, Oskars Bartulis and Ruslan Fedotenko (pictured).
Editor's Note: The number of games in this series was originally listed at five and has been corrected.