Virtanen's KHL contract terminated as non-Russians flee the league

Mar 8 2022, 12:45 am

Jake Virtanen is once again without a team.

The former Vancouver Canucks winger had his contract terminated by Spartak, the Moscow-based KHL team he had been playing with this season, according to multiple reports. He’ll have to pay two-thirds of the remaining amount of the contract for violating the terms of the agreement, according to Sport Express in Russia.

It’s not immediately clear why Virtanen’s contract was terminated, though it seems likely related to the war in Ukraine. The federal government has advised Canadians to leave Russia while they still can.

The Abbotsford native wouldn’t be alone in leaving the KHL, as many non-Russian players have done so in the last week. Former Canucks Markus Granlund and Philip Larsen are among the names that have also left their teams in recent days.

The KHL playoffs began on March 1, though Spartak didn’t have a team to play, as Finnish-based Jokerit removed itself from the league play to oppose the war. Dynamo Riga, a team based in Latvia, did the same.

The sixth overall pick in the NHL Draft by the Canucks in 2014, Virtanen scored just 16 points (9-7-16) in 36 KHL games — good for ninth in scoring among Spartak players.

Virtanen, 25, was placed on leave by the Canucks on May 1 and had his $3.4 million contract bought out by his hometown team in July, following sexual misconduct allegations. He was charged with sexual assault in January, following an investigation by the Vancouver Police Department, for an incident that occurred on September 26, 2017. The investigation was launched in May of last year after a 23-year-old woman came forward.

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