Sunday, July 20, 2008

Radulov suits up in KHL

Predators forward Alexander Radulov participated in his new Russian team's training camp Friday even though his contract was suspended by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Continental Hockey League President Alexander Medvedev said the international federation can't keep Radulov off the ice during domestic competition or camp.
Not a surprise. Off-season training begins much, much earlier overseas than in the NHL, and players like Jaromir Jagr and Ray Emery are likely to already be in camps.

All this is is confirmation that Radulov fully expects to play in Ufa this season.

As for those that believed the NHL will allow him to slink into the night, think again:
"We have made it very, very clear that if Radulov isn't returned, if his contract isn't voided and he isn't returned to Nashville, we have no interest in sitting down at the table, no interest in cooperating, no interest in doing anything with the KHL," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Associated Press.
What that would mean, naturally, is that the informal agreement between the two sides — which remains unsigned — will go out the window entirely, and players in both leagues will be up for grabs.

That's a better situation for the KHL than the NHL due to the fact the North American league has some 700-plus players under contract that could potentially be vulnerable. Far fewer Russian league players under contract are going to be of interest to NHL teams.

Radulov's the keystone here — he's the one to watch. The NHL knows that if he's allowed to play for the KHL while under contract with Nashville it potentially opens the door to other shenanigans. The Russian side, meanwhile, is aiming to gain as much leverage as possible from the fact they have him under contract and willing to defect.

In the KHL's perfect world, immense transfer fees would be paid to club teams for young Russian players, something the NHL's obviously trying to avoid.

No one can force the two sides to come to any sort of agreement, which leads me to believe that the NHL will head into 2008-09 without one — and without one of its burgeoning young stars.

The Columbus Dispatch and the New York Times' hockey blog Slap Shot have more.

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At 1:44 p.m., July 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would somebody, please, tell me how this really works?

KHL wants huge transfer fees for "their" players who wants to play in the NHL but at the same time NHL should be afraid of KHL because it has soooo much money.

Why wouldn't they just pay Filatov more than Columbus did? Lousy two-way deal under rookie cap. And they can't compete with that?

At 1:50 p.m., July 20, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Filatov wants to play in North America, regardless of the financial terms.

At 5:15 p.m., July 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James, I think one of the reasons the KHL is taking such an aggressive stance here has to do with the NHL's likely position that it will not allow its players to participate in Olympic Games after the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Apparently, Putin has still retained governmental responsibilty for the 2014 Games in Sochi and wants them to be a great success. If the NHL doesn't participate - they wont be, and it will be a major embarrassement for Russia to not have their star players representing them in their own Games.

I wouldn't be surprised if Putin has told the KHL to go hard on the NHL so that ultimately the NHL agrees to participate in Sochi as part of an overall settlement with the KHL.

Again, this goes to Gary Bettman's collossal arrogance and ignorance. Here he is telling a country that has given such great talents to the NHL that he won't allow these players to participate in their country's hosting of the Olympic Games.

As a Canadian I can sympathize with Russia on this. Bettman has continually disrespected Canada and now he is disrespecting Russia. The man knows nothing about hockey and needs to go - and the sooner the better.

At 5:16 p.m., July 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. It's also an answer for this: Why KHL is never going to be a real factor re: NHL besides lots of useless talk?

At 8:50 p.m., July 20, 2008, Blogger Baroque said...

Actually, I don't think you can really blame this on Bettman.

It's the IIHF that would be suspending players from international competition.

And if Bettman isn't going to permit NHL players in the Olympics, for Canada as well as Russia, it's at the behest of the NHL owners - all 30 of them, I would be willing to bet, are against their valuable talent playing several extra games in a compressed period of time half-way around the world. They don't want to deal with players integral to their team's chances for the playoffs getting tired later in the season, injured in games that (as far as the NHL season is concerned) mean nothing, and dealing with the jet lag of the players who go to the Olympics and the rust that players who aren't playing for two weeks - not to mention that the compressed schedule to accomodate a long mid-season break could contribute to injury for the players who aren't on the Olympic teams.

Regardless of whether the players are really hurt for the rest of the season if they play in the Olympics to the NHL teams it might as well be an irrelevant exhibition. Bettman is just the voice of the owners on this issue.

At 10:46 p.m., July 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baroque, yes it is Gary Bettman's fault. The job of a Commissioner is to not simply follow the wishes of his 30 individual owners - instead it is to see the "larger picture" and to convince individual owners to follow a longer term strategy that may be against their short term interests, in order to produce better long term results.

The KHL is not about economics and transfer fees and making money. As James has already reported, the KHL business model doesn't make economic sense. The new arenas they are building seat only 10,000, their fans can't afford more than $20 for a ticket and there is no big time television money. There is no way it can compete financially with the NHL.

The KHL is however all about Russian nationalism and restoring a sense of pride in Russia as a significant world power.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disasterous Yeltsin years, Russia was turned into an international laughing stock. Putin has reversed this and has restored national pride in the country. This is why he is so enormously popular with the Russian people despite his anti - democratic measures.

Putin, Med(EV)dev (the Russian President) and the Russian oligarchs such as Med(VE)dev of the KHL are now using Russia's vast oil wealth to subsidize Russian culture and sport to further rebuild Russian nationalism and pride - both internally and on a world stage.

Clearly, the Russian people felt humiliated seeing all their top athletes leave, and then have a little "pip-squeak" like Bettman in the US tell them they can't even compete for their own country in the Olympics.

Unfortunately, Bettman can't see beyond the limits of New York City and has no understanding of hockey internationally.(Canadians have know this for a long time). He also has no understanding of geo - political developments and the impact they can have on his league.

A more insightful leader would have seen these developments in Russia at a much earlier stage and moved to get "ahead of the curve".

Instead, Bettman has been caught totally off guard by the development of the KHL and has only done things to make the situation worse.

I understand Condi Rice is going to be unemployed in the New Year, and is an expert on Russia. The NHL and Bettman might do well to hire her as a consultant!!


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