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Barrett Hayton apologizes after leaving helmet on during Russian anthem

Barrett Hayton #29 of the Arizona Coyotes in action during the third period of the NHL game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Gila River Arena on October 10, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Golden Knights 4-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Coyotes rookie and captain of Canada’s national junior team Barrett Hayton came under scrutiny on Saturday after he left his helmet on his head during the Russian National Anthem.

Hayton and Hockey Canada each issued statements of apology and clarified that the action wasn’t intended as a sign of disrespect. Canada lost 6-0 Saturday to the Russians, a demoralizing defeat if not for the score alone but also because Alexis Lafreniere, a star junior player for Canada and the likely No. 1 overall pick in the next draft, left the game with an injury.

This all took place at the IIHF World Junior Championship, the second such tournament Hayton has played in. He’s appearing in the tournament on loan from the Arizona Coyotes, whose roster has included Hayton all season.

A video tweeted by TSN appeared show the Russian captain taking exception to Hayton’s leaving his helmet on, and then players refusing to shake Hayton’s hand in a handshake line.

“I’m sorry for leaving my helmet on for the Russian anthem following today’s game and I apologize to the Russian team and its fans,” Hayton’s statement read. “As a leader on this team, I was trying to process the game and evaluate how we can regroup. I was lost in the moment.

“The Russians played a great game tonight and my actions were not intended to be disrespectful. My mistake should not detract from their win. I owe it to my team and all Canadians to be better.”

Hockey Canada also issued a statement:

“Hockey Canada has tremendous respect for the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, its players, coaches, management and fans,” the statement said. “We expect our athletes and staff to share and show that same respect.

“Following today’s game against Russia at the IIHF World Junior Championship, Barrett Hayton did not remove his helmet for the playing of the Russian national anthem. Hockey Canada apologizes to the IIHF, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and all Canadians for this incident.”

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