Russia ratifies NHL agreement
From the news-you-may-have-missed department: The Russian Hockey Federation, which had been holding out for the better part of a year on a new player transfer agreement with the IIHF and NHL, ratified a new deal over the weekend.
What that means, in layman's terms, is that talented Russian youngsters like Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Evgeni Malkin and Washington Capitals weirdo/holdout Alexander Semin can — and almost definitely will — play in North America for the 2006-07 season.
No small part of the announcement was due to the recent appointment of Hall of Famer Vladislav Tretiak as head of the RHF, something that should signal a return to prominence of one of hockey's great superpowers. Russia is currently ranked in 6th on the IIHF's world rankings, a position due at least in part to the fractious relationship the RHF has had with many of its players over the years. Expect Tretiak to fix that.