Thursday, November 16, 2006

Russians First Legal Challenge Fails

Three Russian players, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Alexei Mikhnov in the Edmonton Oilers systen and Andrei Taratukhin in the Calgary Flames system are playing in North America despite valid contracts in Russia. This is due in part to the lack of a player transfer deal between the NHL and Russia. The Russians refused to sign the deal that would allow their players to come to North America for a few hundred thousand dollars each and wanted to negotiate transfer fees individually. The NHL took matters into their own hands. Evgeni Malkin left his Metallurg Magnitogorsk team during its training camp in Finland in something reminscent of the 1980's defections while Mikhnov and Taratukhin made questionable legal plays to try to get out of their contracts. A fourth player Alexei Kaigorodov was allowed out with the agreement that he would be returned to Russia if he was sent to the minors. This has caused some contreversy when Ottawa attempted to send him to the minors and keep him in North America.

The Russians are using the legal system to try to get a solution to this situation. What they really want is much larger transfer fees than the NHL wishes to pay. Their first longshot attempt has failed. The attempt to get an injuction to prevent these Russian players from playing in North America has been rejected. Although the NHL wants to play this off as a success on their part, this was never the goal of the Russian officials. The Russians want adequate compensation for producing players for the NHL. They will continue to pursue legal options to try to obtain it.

Here is the TSN story on the legal ruling.

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