With the list of athletes calling for penalties against Russia growing, Wayne Gretzky says the country should be banned from playing in the World Juniors hockey tournament this summer. 

The NHL legend made his opinion clear Saturday night in an interview on NHL on TNT, calling the Russian invasion of Ukraine a “senseless war.”

“I think international hockey should say, ‘We’re not gonna let them play in the world junior hockey tournament. I think we got to, as Canadians, take that stance since the games are going to be played in Edmonton.”

Gretzky, whose family is of Eastern European descent, says he has been in contact with Ukrainians since the invasion began. “I talked to a couple of guys this morning who are living in Ukraine. They are actually driving from Kyiv with their families 14 hours dropping them off, driving back, and picking up rifles and guns so that they can protect their own cities.”

The World Juniors were originally meant to take place last December. Due to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has pushed the tournament to August. 

If the IIHF takes Gretzky’s advice, they would follow FIFA banning Russia from playing a World Cup qualifying match. The IIHF said it is “saddened and deeply concerned” by recent events in Ukraine in a statement on Friday, and will be meeting to discuss the “implications of this conflict on [their] events” on Monday, Feb 28.