You will hear a lot of hyperbolic quotes throughout NHL training camps, but no one is more relieved to be back on the ice than Minnesota Wild star Kirill Kaprizov.
Kaprizov had a nightmare summer after he was reportedly wanted by Russian police for allegedly purchasing a fake military identity card, with the goal of evading mandatory service. These reports were adamantly rejected by Kaprizov and his family, but his return to the United States wasn’t made any easier as he was turned away while trying to enter through a flight from Dubai due to a visa issue.
The 25-year-old eventually received his visa and successfully returned to the United States on Aug. 1, but there were several parties concerned about his journey back from Russia.
“We had a lot of help from very special people,” Wild general manager Bill Guerin said via The Athletic’s Michael Russo. “We had to get him appointments and shuffle him around. It was pretty tense, and we didn’t know if we were going to get him out of there. It’s turned out to be very serious.”
Kaprizov signed a five-year, $45-million contract with the Wild in September 2021 but since he inked the deal a day before training camp started, he didn’t get a new work visa for the upcoming year. The escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War also complicated the process of obtaining a new visa.
Guerin and other members of the Wild encouraged Kaprizov to remain in the United States during the offseason, but they certainly don’t fault him for returning home for the summer.
“It’s his home. If that’s your home, it’s your home,” Guerin said. “He didn’t think this would have happened, so I don’t blame him at all.”
It was a harrowing summer for Kaprizov and the Wild, but both parties are looking to turn a new page with the dynamic left winger aiming to improve upon a sparkling 47-goal, 108-point campaign in 2021-2022. Kaprizov asked reporters to keep questions strictly about hockey and it’s hard to fault him, especially given his game-breaking talents and electrifying style of play. After being caught up in the middle of a geopolitical conflict while most of his peers were relaxing or posting on Instagram, who could blame him?
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