Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov remains in Russia amid reports of fake military IDs and fleeing to the US

MONTREAL — The Minnesota Wild and the NHL tried to come to grips with a developing situation on Wednesday after multiple media reports emerged from Russia that Wild star Kirill Kaprizov is wanted in his home country for allegedly buying a fake military ID in 2017 He played for Salavat Yulaev Ufa. Wild general manager Bill Guerin said so the athlete that Kaprizov is still in Russia, contrary to reports that he had fled to the United States.

“We try to find out as much as we can, but we don’t worry too much about it,” Guerin said. “I spoke to (Kaprizov’s agent) Paul (Theofanous). We’re not going to hit the panic button or anything. We’re just trying to gather information and find out if that’s even credible.”

This situation comes days after Ivan Fedotov, would-be goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers, was arrested and taken to a military naval camp for allegedly evading mandatory military service. Fedotov was accused of buying a fake military ID from a high-ranking military officer who allegedly also helped other Ufa athletes get the military IDs.

Kaprizov was on this team with Fedotov. SHOT-Telegram reported that Kaprizov and Pavel Karnaukhov are suspected of buying military ID cards in 2017.

Kaprizov’s father, Oleg, denied that his son bought Sport-Express a military ID and said Kaprizov is a student at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA). It is common for Russian professional athletes to study remotely to delay their military commitments.

However, according to a source familiar with the situation, Kaprizov’s release expired on June 30. If true, Kaprizov could be required to perform his military duties despite the accusation that he bought a military ID card five years ago. In Russia, men between the ages of 18 and 27 are required to serve in the military for a year.

Theofanous did not respond to multiple interview requests.

Kaprizov, 25, has played the last two seasons at the Wild. He won the Calder Trophy for 2020-21 Rookie of the Year and set a franchise record with 47 goals and 108 points last season. Before that, he represented CSKA Moscow, which is still considered a Red Army team, for three years. Typically, CSKA Moscow players have historically been exempt from military service. However, this could be an informal rule.

“You are in the army, but your job is to play hockey,” a Russian source said. “Someone’s job is to drive a tank, and your job is to hold a stick.”

Kaprizov is a distinguished Russian player who has twice led the KHL as top scorer, won a league, captained the 2017 World Junior Championship team and scored the golden goal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. When he was pressured four years ago to re-sign with CSKA Moscow and not sign with the Wild, he did just that. He was photographed many times shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Vladimir Putin and Kirill Kaprizov (Grigory Dukor/AFP via Getty Images)

“He did everything they asked,” said a source close to many Russian players. “That’s why he stayed so long without coming to the States, because they asked him to – official people asked him to.”

When asked how worried he was that Kaprizov might be forced to stay in Russia, a source familiar with what’s going on in Russia said he wasn’t — “unless it comes straight from the top, and You know who I mean.”

“If it comes from the person (Putin) and he says Kirill is not going anywhere, then he is not going anywhere,” the source said. “If it doesn’t come from that one person, everyone else is fine. Only one person can make him stay, nobody else.

“But is that possible? Like a small percentage of course because he’s one of the biggest names to set an example. Which will you make an example of: Fedotov, who will be in the AHL, or a star in the league? If you want to make headlines, grab the best you can. I think he has a good reputation with extremely high-level people, but when push comes to shove and they want to set an example, obviously they will. You will forget everything else – all the good things he did for the country.”

It’s an alarming thought reflected in a story published by the athlete last week, in which a number of NHL executives expressed concern that Russian players may struggle to return to North America following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and escalating global tensions.

In that story, an agent said he warned all of his clients not to return home this off-season, and Guerin said he begged Kaprizov six weeks ago not to return to Russia this off-season.

A Russian person who works closely with players across the NHL echoed that sentiment Wednesday the athlete. He said he has warned everyone he has relations with not to return to Russia this off-season.

“I wasn’t urging anyone to go back and pretty much nobody was listening,” the source said. “They all laughed because until something happens, people take it lightly. Now something has happened and people don’t take it lightly anymore. I’m sure these guys aren’t laughing anymore.”

The NHL held its annual GMs meeting on Wednesday, and managers said the issue of Russia potentially blocking players from returning had not come up.

“There’s no guidance,” said Chuck Fletcher, GM of the Philadelphia Flyers. “Teams are free to make their own decisions.

“It is a very delicate situation and we are doing our best to keep abreast of any developments. Given the current situation (with Fedotov), ​​I will probably limit my public comments.”

Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said he spoke to Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.

“Every time I speak to them, they feel comfortable and confident that they can come back,” MacLellan said. “Of course there is uncertainty there, but they feel comfortable.”

As for Kaprizov, multiple sources said on Wednesday that if he returns to the United States, he should only return after his playing days. But that could also endanger his parents and brother, who live in Russia.

“It’s clear that Russia is trying to pressure NHL players not to leave Russia right now,” a league source said. “This will not only be reserved for Kirill Kaprizov. I don’t know how any Russian player can be confident of returning to Russia every off-season now. Or the NHL draft is coming (Thursday and Friday). How to draft a Russian player now? I do not know. It is very complicated.”

(Photo by Kirill Kaprizov: Bailey Hillesheim / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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