The Russians are not happy with Team Canada captain Barrett Hayton. After Team Russia handed Team Canada an embarrassing 6-0 loss in the preliminary round of the 2020 World Juniors, the Russians took exception to a disrespectful move by Hayton after the game.
The current Arizona Coyotes player didn’t remove his helmet for the anthem. It’s customary in IIHF hockey for the national anthem of the winning team to be played after every game and for players to take off their helmets as a token of respect.
It’s unclear if it was simply a mistake or an intentional move by Hayton, but you have to lean towards the latter when you consider Hayton is a returning player for Team Canada and is familiar with IIHF rules and regulations.
Team Russia captain Grigori Denisenko noticed Hayton not wearing his helmet during the anthem and went to complain to the ref after the game. The Panthers prospect tied for the tournament-scoring lead last season and clearly recognizes the importance of removing your helmet for the anthem.
TSN was able to track down more footage of the incident which shows Denisenko refusing to shake Hayton’s hand in the handshake line. Not only does Denisenko not shake Hayton’s hand, but the next three Russians behind him all refuse to the shake the hand of the Canadian captain.
— Gino Hard (@Ginohard_) December 28, 2019
Denisenko was asked about the incident by TSN after the game, but he didn’t want to make a big deal of it.
“It was just something the whole team didn’t like,” Denisenko said, through a translator.
Both Barrett Hayton and Hockey Canada issued a statement after the game.
Statement from Barrett Hayton:
“I’m sorry for leaving my helmet on for the Russian anthem following today’s game and I apologize to Russian team and its fans. As a leader on this team, I was trying to process the game and evaluate how we can regroup. I was lost in the moment. The Russians played a great game tonight and my actions were not intended to be disrespectful. My mistake should not detract from their win. I ow it to my team and all Canadians to be better.”
Statement from Hockey Canada:
“Hockey Canada has tremendous respect for the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, its players, coaches, management, and fans. We expect our athletes and staff to share and show that same respect. Following today’s game against Russia at the IIHF World Championship, Barrett Hayton did not remove his helmet for the playing of the Russian national anthem. Hockey Canada apologizes to the IIHF, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and all Canadians for this incident.”
It was an ugly loss for Canada after they opened the tournament with such a convincing victory over Team USA on Day 1. The Canadians couldn’t seem to bring any of that momentum into the game and were shutout by Team Russia’s goaltender Amir Miftakhov. The worst part of the loss was that Team Canada lost projected 2020 first overall NHL draft pick Alexis Lafreniere to a nasty knee injury in the second period.
It’s understandable for Team Canada to be frustrated after suffering one of their worst World Junior losses of all time, but Hayton removing his helmet for the anthem is disrespectful and not something that belongs in the game.
Team Canada and Team Russia could meet again in this year’s World Juniors, so this is definitely a situation worth monitoring.