Posted on March 3, 2022

Agent for Russian-Born NHL Players Says Clients Dealing With Threats, Discrimination After Invasion of Ukraine

Emily Kaplan, ESPN, March 1, 2022

NHL player agent Dan Milstein, who represents a majority of the Russian-born players in the league, told ESPN his clients are experiencing “disturbing levels” of harassment and believes draft-eligible players are already being discriminated against because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The discrimination and racism these Russian and Belarusian players are facing right now is remarkable,” Milstein told ESPN in an interview on Tuesday. “We’re being set back 30 years. I have players calling me, parents calling me. They’re concerned whether they’ll be able to play, whether they’ll be safe.”

Milstein, who was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, immigrated in the United States in 1991 at age 16 as a political refugee. He is now a U.S. citizen and represents more than 75% of the NHL’s Russian- and Belarusian-born players, including Tampa Bay Lightning stars Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy and New York Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin.


According to Milstein, one of his clients was on the road this week and was harassed by someone on the street.

“He was yelled at to, ‘Get back to your country,’ and was called a Nazi and other words,” Milstein said. “Clients are being called Nazis. People are wishing that they are dead. These are human beings. These are hockey players. These are guys contributing to our society, paying millions of dollars in taxes to support the U.S. and Canada and doing all kinds of charity work back home. Stop looking at them as aggressors. Stop being racist.”

Milstein said several of his NHL clients have received death threats. One NHL player’s wife posted a photo of their infant child on Instagram, then received direct messages where she was told she had “Nazi kids,” according to Milstein.

“My clients aren’t as nervous for themselves,” Milstein said. “But when they are on the road, and they have a wife and a newborn child at home that are alone, there are major concerns.”

On Monday, the NHL put out a statement condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The NHL has suspended relationships with business partners in Russia and also paused the NHL’s Russian-language social and digital media sites. {snip}

The agent said all teams so far have accommodated his and players’ requests for extra security, something he said he is “very grateful for.”

While Milstein believes his NHL players’ employment is safe due to guaranteed contracts, he wonders about barriers for future players and future opportunities. On Tuesday, equipment manufacturer CCM said it would stop using Russian players in global marketing campaigns.


The USHL and CHL are considering banning Russian players from being drafted next year {snip}