Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Questionable Player Transfers Go Both Ways

One of the stories of the summer is the lack of an international player transfer deal. Some resolution appeared to be made when the NHL and KHL agreed to honor each other's contracts. This ran into problems when on the same day of the announcement, it was announced that Alexander Radulov, who is under contract with the Nashville predators of the NHL signed a contract with Saavat Yulaev of the KHL. The mainstream North American media (and much of the blogosphere) has been quick to paint the KHL as the bad guys (for example here), but it is not that simple.

The NHL has signed players who are under contract in the KHL as well. To the best of my knowledge, there have been two disputed signings: Jason Krog by the Vancouver Canucks who has signed with Severstal Cherepovets of the KHL and Tomas Mojzis by the Minnesota Wild who was signed by Sibir Novosibirsk of the KHL.

Jason Krog had a superstar season in the AHL where he led the league in scoring in both the regular season and the playoffs. He signed with Severstal Cherepovets when his season ended, but then signed with the Vancouver Canucks when he was offered a one-way NHL contract. Krog claims he had an out in his contract that would allow him to sign in the NHL by August 1st, but the Russians dispute this.

Tomas Mojzis played in the Russian League last year with Sibir Novosibirsk and was signed to play with them again this year when he signed with the Minnesota Wild. Most likely, he will play some or all of his upcoming season in the AHL.

So far, Russia signed the best disputed player who is already under contract, in Radulov, but the NHL has not been totally innocent. There is a fight for players between the NHL and KHL. Right now the NHL has most of the best players in the world, but not all. The KHL will likely gain an increasing number of the top players in the world. In this battle, the NHL is not the innocent victim. Both sides have been involved in questionable signings.

1) Certainly neither side is innocent here, but we don't yet see the KHL as a true rival to the NHL.
2) It could one day if, as we wrote on our blog today, certain conditions occur, but as of right now they are more an annoyance than a rival.
3) As one blogger wrote today:"Let them play in their beaten-down, unheated, bomb-shelter "arenas" in front of 3,500 shivering fans. Maybe they get paid at the end of the month, maybe they don't. Until they invent television in the USSR, and electricity, and central heating, and the rule of law, and freedom, and banking laws, and a criminal justice system, etc., that society - much less its hockey league - will not advance past the 18th-century."
4) While his list may be a bit harsh/excessive it does touch on the fact that despite all the money pumped into this new league and the oil money, etc., Russia is still by and large a 3rd world country and the folks running things there make our politicians/hockey owners look like Mother Theresa in comparison!
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