Thursday, August 03, 2006

No Russian IIHF Deal For This Year Either

The teams in the Russian Elite League have decided not to sign the IIHF player transfer deal that Russian Ice Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak agreed to in June. This will be the second year where there is no NHL- Russia IIHF transfer deal. This deal governs the co-existence of the Russian leagues and the NHL. Among other things, it outlines how much money the NHL must pay to the Russian leagues if they sign a player who is under contract in Russia. The Russians have maintained that these payments are not enough (they are based on the draft position of the player and typically several hundred thousand dollars).

This leaves a situation where there will likely be legal disputes when over the status of Russian players bewteen the two leagues. Last year, disputes occurred on the status of Alexander Semin and Alexander Ovechkin. This year, the most likely target for such legislation is Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins who is an early Calder favorite.

Without a player transfer deal, NHL players may leave in mid-contract to join Russian teams and Russian league players may leave in mid-contract to join NHL teams. It is up to the individual teams involved to negotiate or otherwise determine the details of the player transfers. It is possible that a player like Malkin could require a multi-million dollar payment to free him from his Russia team Metallurg Magnitogorsk. It is also possible that he could leave with no payment whatsoever. It complicates the transfer of players such as Malkin to the NHL.

Here is an ESPN story on this situation.

Deals are fine, but it really makes no difference if a league has such a deal or not. It is all free agency type stuff somewhat like professional football (or soccer) in Europe, and teams can do whatever they want and pay whatever they want. I have no idea of there is a such a transfer deal among the European leagues and MLS in the United States, or any league in the Americas or Asia or Africa, for that matter.

Baseball doesn't have one, and players from Japan have come over to play in the US after their teams worked out deals for them. I just don't see it as a necessary thing.
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