Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's War at Least in Their Minds

So the big news of the weekend was this from those wonderfully happy folks who run the KHL (translated from Russian of course thanks to the folks at Slap Shot):

"The Continental Hockey League strictly adhered to the unilaterally declared moratorium on signing players who had existing contracts with the National Hockey League clubs. The NHL violated the earlier agreement in Zurich on August 28 and formally announced the signing of contracts by the Los Angeles Kings club with Andrei Loktionovym and Vyacheslav Voynovym. These players have existing contracts with KHL clubs "Lokomotiv" and "Tractor" respectively."

"In connection with this, the KHL considers itself free from any obilagations to comply with the previously announced moratorium on transferring players. On September 6 at the headquarters of the International Hockey Federation in Zurich, there will be a meeting on this topic, after which the Continental Hockey League will determine further action regarding the National Hockey League."

First off the KHL knew that these players were going to sign with the Kings for a while and according to our sources made next to no effort to sign them thinking they could pull this same scam that they have been trying to claim about the Bluejackets Nikita Filatov and his contract.

Second before anyone jumps the gun then recall that Bill Daly of the NHL was just as lame when he reportedly made his own threats towards the KHL if the IIHF did not return the Predator's Radulov to them. It was weal sabre rattling then and it is just as weak sabre rattling now.

It seems that in Russian contracts can get magically renewed even if the player in question wants no part of playing in the KHL. Wave a hand and your contract has been renewed but we are still waiting for the KHL to show us where it was written in the old contracts that clause.

We know we will be waiting a very long time for that information to be given to us by the folks at the KHL. We say this is a "magical" clause because it only appears in high profile Russian players who say they wanted to play in the NHL this season.

It does not appear on many a Russian prospect who is not considered as NHL ready like say the Ranger's 3rd round pick Evgeny Grachev who will be spending this season in the OHL with the Brampton Battalion.

We are also pretty sure that our friends at the IIHF are not happy at the linkage to the KHL so we will make sure people know that the IIHF has been trying very hard to remain neutral thoughout all this nonsense. They are the ones caught in the middle of this mess and odds are when they release their decision regarding the contract status of the 6 players they have been investigating that they will have one side or possibly both sides mad at them.

One also has to take into account that this message was written more for the fans of the KHL than it was for world wide consumption. The KHL is trying to build credibility among the Russian hockey fans and watching their young talent bolt for the NHL does not help.

Seriously who for a second thinks that the KHL is going to get a current NHL player to bolt out of their contract to join the KHL? Think about it for all you would like but reality says not one key NHL player would even consider jumping to the KHL at this point in time.

The very best of Russia's players are not playing in Russia nor are they interested in playing in the KHL. Several like the Pen's Malkin went though a lot of trouble in getting away from their Russian teams that they are not interested in returning to play there.

If the KHL can not even lure the best of the Russians to return back to their native country how can they expect someone from either Canada or the USA to? The KHL announcement is more wishful thinking than it is an actual threat to the NHL.

That being said though it will be interesting to see what does happen when the IIHF finally does rule on the contract status of the original 6 players as our feeling is no matter who wins; the other side is not going to accept or respect the ruling.

We have a bad feeling that this nonsense is going to drag itself out until it starts to cost one or both sides some serious money. When it does then we will see a resolution but until then it will be more weak proclamations


Amos said...

I saw a comment from Ilya "No D" Kovalchuk about this most recent business between the KHL and the NHL, and he said "I have two years left on my contract with Atlanta, and then who knows... we'll see." I think having the misfortune of being drafted by one of the sorriest teams in the league (even though we have a very hard time beating them in the regular season) and being cursed with awful management and even worse of a supporting cast, I think Kovalchuk is the #1 candidate to bolt back to the KHL. The one thing that would keep him here is the possibility of being a free agent, getting to go to a team where he might stand a chance of winning something in addition to a massive payday. I just pray he never comes to the Rangers... right now Eric Lindros is the only Ranger that I could never get behind as a fan... (I'm not counting Christian Backman as he helped our opponents more than he helped the Rangers) I'd hate to see Kovalchuk in a Ranger sweater, too. Living in Atlanta, I have a unique view of him and I would prefer someone who has the capacity to learn some kind of two way play. In Kovalchuk's first two seasons I don't think he set a skate inside his own defensive zone. Unacceptable.

Jess Rubenstein said...


You are being generous in your description of Kovalchuk as I agree I too would not want to see him as a Ranger.

He does have a lot of talent but one wonders why he doesn't elevate it to the level of his fellow Russians?

Regarding the KHL I would get worried if a talented North American decided to head to Russia instead of the NHL

Amos said...

I agree Jess, I think until the KHL scores someone like Jagr (but not on the tail end of their career) they won't be able to poach talent. All that will be defecting to Russia will be marginal players and young Russians that think they aren't being given a fair shot at the NHL, or don't want to be spending time in the minors.
This universal draft business sounds rediculous though, I don't think a million dollars signing bonus will be enough to get most NHL caliber talent across the atlantic.
As for Kovalchuk I would be happy to see him return to Russia. I think he's a whiny brat with yes talent, but every time I see him play I lose more respect for him. His lowest moment in my eyes is when the Rangers played the Thrashers in the playoffs, and when Avery was doing his thing getting under Kovalchuk's skin, and when Avery was trying to get Kovalchuk to fight him, Avery dropped his gloves to fight, but Kovalchuk attacked Avery with both his gloves AND his VISORED HELMET on. That may be one of the most classless acts in hockey. Ryan Callahan actually lost points in my book when he fought someone without taking his visored helmet off. The NHL rulebook stipulates that an ADDITIONAL 2 minute penalty be issued to a visored player fighting a non visored player, although every time I've seen that happen, I've never seen it be called. Strange...

Amos said...

I'd also like to add that it is pretty much the dream of every North American player to be able to play in the NHL. I think some people will bolt, but the people talented enough to make it to the NHL will not want to turn their backs on their dream of playing in the best league in the world.

Ahhh its so nice to talk about something other than Mats Sundin.