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A popular sport in Soviet days that suffered in the 1990s due to lack of state support and profits, the quality of Ukrainian hockey teams and games has noticeably improved in recent years, thanks to the financial backing of the nation’s oligarchs.

It’s still far from NHL standards, but an increasingly competitive field and financial disputes across the Atlantic mean fans can get a glimpse of players from the world’s top league this year. 

A salary dispute between NHL team owners and players has indefinitely frozen the league’s operation. As a result, NHL professionals Ruslan Fedotenko, Anton Babchuk and Alexei Ponikarovsky have signed on to play for Ukraine’s best team, Donetsk-based Donbass. 

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