Earlier this week, USA Hockey announced the roster of players selected from their recently completed national Select 16 Festival that will be participating in the Five Nations tournament in Slovakia in mid-August.
The initial roster of players released included Warroad(MN) High School forward Jared Bethune, one of the top sophomore forwards in Minnesota High School hockey last winter. But on Tuesday evening, Bethune announced via Twitter that he would not be able to participate on the team due to a citizenship issue.
No easy way of saying this but I will not be able to play for Team USA in Slovakia due to my citizenship, want to thank @usahockey for— Jared Bethune (@bethune_21) July 16, 2013
The issue at hand with Bethune is that while he technically has a Canadian passport, he possesses a Secure Certificate of Indian Status(more commonly known as a 'status card'). With the status card, he is free to cross the US/Canadian border, is able to live and work in the United States without any sort of immigration restrictions, and theoretically, should be able to represent either country internationally. In effect, there's not supposed to be a border for people with status cards.
USA Hockey, perhaps with good reason given the way the IIHF has ruled against them in some recent high-profile citizenship cases, views the matter differently, however. It was USA Hockey's determination that because Bethune only has a Canadian passport, he is unable to represent the United States. Also working against Bethune is that there is a precedent in cases like this, where a female player with a Canadian passport and status card was not allowed to represent the United States.
Late Tuesday evening after Bethune made the announcement, a number of friends, teammates, and fellow hockey players began using the hashtag #LetBethuneGo in an effort to possibly sway the mind of USA Hockey.
It's a tough break for the United States to lose a player before the tournament, and especially for Bethune, who loses out on a chance to travel overseas and represent what he believes to be his country.