Friday, July 18, 2008

IIHF Takes Action?

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is trying to weigh in on the questionable player transfers this summer. Since Alexander Radulov is under contract with the Nashville Predators of the NHL despite signing with Saavat Yulaev of the KHL he has been "suspended" by the IIHF. The IIHF claims Radulov is suspended from all international transfers and competitions, while they investigate the matter. The problem with this suspension is that there is no formal player transfer deal involving the IIHF so it's not clear that they can suspend him from any international player transfers. If Radulov plays in the KHL, they may be able to punish the Russian hockey program, but it is not clear how. The part of this suspension they can hold up is barring Radulov from any international competitions such as the World Championships or the Olympics. The problem there is until spring 2009, there is no international competition that Radulov is likely to be involved in (the World Championships occur then).

The IIHF is also investigating some of the NHL's questionable player transfers. This includes Jason Krog signing with the Vancouver Canucks and Tomas Mojzis signing with the Minnesota Wild as well as Fedor Fedorov who signed with the New Jersey Devils (and is under contract to the Moscow Dynamo of the KHL), Nikita Filatov who signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets who drafted him in 2008 and is alleged to be under contract with CSKA Moscow and Viktor Tikhonov who signed with the Phoenix Coyotes (who drafted him in 2008) and is under contract with Cherepovets Severstal.

Likely, all the IIHF can do is bar these players from international competition while they play in the league of their choosing. They can attempt to punish the league or country that allows them to play, but their power is limited. If either the NHL or KHL thumb their noses at the IIHF little can be done. It is unlikely that they would be barred from Olympic participation as they are the best nations in the sport and it would ruin the tournament.

The IIHF is a relatively powerless organization to oversee international hockey unless the major hockey powers cede power to them, which is not being done. They can attempt to put pressure on Radulov, Krog, Mojzis, Fedorov, Filatov and Tikhonov to return to the leagues they first committed to (if they find those contracts binding), but there is no guarantee that pressure will work. Their suspension of Radulov holds little threat. He could play in the KHL while suspended.

Here is TSN's story on this situation.

Frankly, anything that can harm, weaken, or better yet destroy the Euro-centric IIHF is fine with me; i'd love to see it fall apart, then we could redo international hockey in a way that would make Canada an equal partner at LEAST in World hockey affairs; it's time to stop letting the Euros tell us how to play OUR game!! Die IIHF, and take Bettman with you!
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