Sunday, November 20, 2005

Russia Strikes Back: Dynamo Moscow Wants Ovechkin

One ongoing battle in international hockey is the lack of an NHL-IIHF agreement involving the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. As a result, player transfers between these leagues are not agreed upon and are leading to legal battles.

The NHL fired first with the first legal battle over the status of Alexander Semin who has signed an NHL contract with Washington but is playing in Russia.

Russia is striking back today. Dynamo Moscow is suing the NHL over the rights to Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

Over the summer, Ovechkin's Russian playing status was in contreversy when he signed a three year contract with Avongard Omsk that had an out clause if he played in the NHL. He exercized this clause. His previous club Dynamo Moscow claims they matched that deal without the NHL out clause. As a result, he was under contract and should not have been able to join the NHL.

If Dynamo's case is shown to have merit, likely Ovechkin would be forced to honor his contract with Dynamo Moscow should he ever chose to play in Russia again. Similarly, it looks likely that Semin will be forced to honor his NHL contract with Washington should he ever play in the NHL again. However, if either player decides not to return to their previous league, they will be able to stay in their current league and play out their career as normal.

Likely, this is all needless legal fighting because neither side is willing to come to any agreement under amicable negotiation. However, with any legal battles, you never know exactly how they will be ruled and their results could be quite interesting.

TSN's story on the Ovechkin case is here.

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