Minnesota native Brennen Menell, a talented defenseman for the Dynamo Moscow hockey team, has been granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin. The Russian citizenship was approved through a presidential decree issued by Putin on Thursday. Menell, who is 26 years old, was traded by a Belarusian team to Dynamo Moscow in September 2020 and recently signed a three-year contract extension with his new team in April.
One interesting aspect of Menell’s acquisition of Russian citizenship is that he does not necessarily have to give up his US citizenship. This is not uncommon, as other notable figures such as action-movie star Steven Seagal and boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. have also retained their US citizenship while becoming Russian citizens. Menell’s dual citizenship allows him to maintain ties with both countries.
Before joining Dynamo Moscow, Menell had a successful career in North America’s Western Hockey League. He then secured a contract with his hometown Minnesota Wild in the NHL in 2017. Although he primarily played for the Wild’s American Hockey League affiliate in Iowa, he had a brief stint with the NHL club, appearing in only five games. However, in 2020, Menell made the decision to sign with Dinamo Minsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), where he excelled. In 102 games, he contributed eight goals and 64 assists, showcasing his skills and talent.
Interestingly, Menell isn’t the only North American hockey player seeking Russian citizenship. According to a Russian media report, Canadian-born Brendan Leipsic, a forward for SKA Saint Petersburg, has written a letter to President Putin requesting citizenship. Leipsic lost his NHL contract with the Washington Capitals in 2020 due to controversial comments he made on social media. His move to seek Russian citizenship highlights a growing trend among foreign players in the KHL.
Hockey legend Viacheslav Fetisov, who had a successful career in the NHL and currently serves in the Duma (the Russian parliament), praised Leipsic’s decision to seek Russian citizenship. Fetisov believes that it is beneficial for Russia when players from the United States and Canada willingly choose to become Russian citizens, as it undermines Western propaganda. He sees it as an opportunity for these players to experience Russia firsthand and see the truth for themselves.
Menell’s acquisition of Russian citizenship and the growing trend of foreign players seeking Russian passports highlight the influence and appeal of the KHL. The league has become a formidable competitor to the NHL, attracting talented players from around the world. With the addition of Menell and potentially Leipsic as Russian citizens, the KHL continues to solidify its position as a top-tier hockey league.
In conclusion, Brennen Menell’s approval for Russian citizenship by President Putin adds to the increasing number of North American hockey players seeking Russian passports. Menell’s dual citizenship allows him to maintain ties with both the US and Russia, enhancing his opportunities and options as a professional hockey player. His successful career in the KHL, along with the praise from hockey legend Viacheslav Fetisov, further highlights the appeal and competitiveness of the league. As the KHL continues to attract foreign players, the dynamics of international hockey are evolving, making it an exciting time for the sport.