Sunday, April 01, 2007

Does The NHL Honor IIHF Suspensions?

Todd Simpson is a veteran NHL defenceman who spent this season playing for the Hannover Scorpions in the German Elite Hockey League. As the German season ended, the New York Islanders signed Simpson to be a depth defenceman for the stretch run of the season (Isles have injuries to Radek Martinek, Bruno Gervais and Freddy Meyer). However, in the last playoff game in the German league, Simpson was suspended indefinitely for abuse of an official. Thus, he is suspended indefinitely in all IIHF leagues (this is something the NHL agreed to as part of the IIHF player transfer deal). Simpson cannot play in the NHL during this suspension.

A hearing will be held on Monday to determine Simpson's status. Until then he is not eligible for NHL play. I expect that the NHL will pressure the IIHF to allow Simpson to be declared eligible and thus ignore his suspension. How would the NHL react if things were going the other way and (for example) Chris Simon was trying to play in Germany?

The NHL follows the IIHF's lead when it is in their best interest, but tries to change directions in spite of existing agreements when it is not. This mistrust is one issue in why a Russian player transfer deal has been so hard to negotiate.

Here is the Associated Press story on this issue.

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