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Ruslan Fedotenko’s hockey career took him away from home…due to war in Eastern Ukraine

The KHL team Donbass Donetsk had to fold for war-related reasons--the first time I've ever heard that statement used regarding hockey--last season, and Ukrainian native Ruslan Fedotenko tells ESPN's Tal Pinchevsky that his hockey career and personal life have taken an entwined path since conflict embroiled Eastern Ukraine and Donetsk in particular:

It seemed like such a perfect fit when Ukrainian-born Ruslan Fedotenko signed a three-year deal with HC Donbass of the Kontinental Hockey League on July 2, 2013.

With a résumé that includes stints with five NHL teams over 12 seasons, and Stanley Cup victories with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 and Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, he was already his country's top hockey export. A decade after representing Ukraine at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, Fedotenko returned home during the 2012-13 NHL lockout to play with Donbass, a club located in the southeastern city of Donetsk. Offered a generous salary and an opportunity to help build hockey in Ukraine, he was hailed as a hero when he returned for a second go-around.

Just 20 months after being named captain and becoming the face of Ukrainian hockey, Fedotenko, 36, is now skating with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League. It's his first minor league stint since he broke into the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, in 2000. But any career struggles Fedotenko has encountered are nothing compared to the violence that has engulfed his home country.

"A lot of people are dying [in Ukraine] every day, innocent people," Fedotenko said. "It puts perspective. I didn't find a [NHL] team yet, but at least I'm alive and I have peace over my head versus people who I still talk to back in Donetsk who go shelter to shelter and are just trying to survive bombings."

Pinchevsky continues, and this is a hard story to read--especially given that Donbass Donetsk's arena is now a firebombed hulk, and that the city where players from all over the world called home until war came to their doorstep--but sometimes we "need to be reminded" that, in more than a few places around the world, people still have to leave their homes to play hockey because the threat of war, ethnic or religious-based violence remain present dangers.

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  Tags: ruslan+fedotenko

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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