Monday, January 16, 2006

Petr Prucha's Transfer Fee

This season there has been a bumper crop of rookies. One rookie who is playing quite well, although not a serious player in the Calder trophy race is Petr Prucha of the New York Rangers. Prucha came to the Rangers from HC Moeller Pardubice of the Czech League. According to the transfer deal between the NHL and the IIHF the New York Rangers are required to pay $200,000 to the Pardubice club for taking Prucha away from them. This is really a pittance given the value a player like Prucha would add to the Czech League and given the costs sunk into him by the Czechs for his development. The Rangers are late on their payments. They have only paid $80,000 for Prucha. This is angering the Czech League officials.

The NHL has maintained a very hardline stance in their negotiations with international leagues (one could argue it was the same hardline stance that won them the lockout). As a result the Russian Ice Hockey Federation did not agree to any transfer deal despite some significant power plays by the NHL.

There are two cases before the courts involving the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and the NHL. One is the case of Alexander Semin a Washington Capital draftee who returned to play in Russia during the lockout while the Capitals assigned him to the AHL. Washington wants to fine Semin for being away and have him honor the remainder of his contract. Semin claims he was locked out so he had every right to play in Russia if he chose and due to the lack of a transfer deal has every right to continue to play there. The other is the case of Alexander Ovechkin the Capitals rookie sensation. Dynamo Moscow claims they should still have his rights and he should be returned to them instead of playing in the NHL. The Ovechkin case is probably legal nuisance filed to make life difficult for the Washington Capitals to try and make the Semin case go away.

The fact that even with a player transfer deal, NHL teams are not paying the transfer fees (or at least not paying them on time) shows signs that the NHL bargained in bad faith with the European leagues. This cold war between the NHL and Europe is likely to make significant impact on the hockey game we see as fans, but is being significantly under-reported in North America.

Here is the Czech Business Weekly story on Petr Prucha which I found with an assist to Kukla's Korner.

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