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Federations' refusal could affect NHL's Turin plans

8/15/2005 - NHL

GENEVA -- The Czech and Russian hockey federations refused
to sign the proposed player transfer agreement between the NHL and
the sport's world governing body as Monday's deadline passed,
leaving unsettled the NHL's participation in next year's Turin
Olympics.
"We really don't know about the ramifications of those two
countries saying no to the proposed deal," International Ice
Hockey Federation spokesman Szymon Szemberg told The Associated
Press.
The expired NHL-IIHF agreement covered player transfers, as well
as NHL players' participation in Olympic, world championship and
World Cup tournaments. The IIHF and NHL are still in talks to
decide on their next course of action.
The Czech and Russian federations faced a Monday deadline to
reply to the deal offered by the NHL. The other five federations --
Sweden, Finland, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland -- have said they
would sign.
Czech clubs say the minimum amount of compensation the NHL pays
to European federations to sign players is too low. The Russian
clubs would like to deal directly with NHL teams in determining
player compensation.
While the Russian federation simply refused to sign the
agreement, the Czechs had come up with their own counterproposal
for the NHL. In it, they wanted to raise the minimum compensation
for any draft pick from $150,000 to $300,000.
The NHL already had said it would not consider counterproposals.
In addition, the Czech resisted the one-time compensation fee
paid to federations for players. The Czechs agree this should apply
to players under 23, but "we cannot agree [in the case of] a
player who leaves for the NHL with the basic compensation at the
age of 18, then coming back and growing up into a top player [, then]
going back to the NHL free," said Stanislav Sulc, director of the association of professional ice hockey clubs.
The Czechs also want half of any compensation to be paid
immediately and agree with the compensation being lowered by 20
percent in case the player played in junior hockey overseas.
In the proposed five-year player transfer plan, the NHL would
pay $12.5 million annually to a fund managed by the IIHF -- a $3.5
million increase from the previous deal.
The IIHF would distribute the money among the national
federations and clubs that lose players to the NHL based on a
formula devised by the IIHF and the national federations.
A player picked first in the NHL draft is worth $900,000, with
each successive pick down to 30th decreasing by $20,000. Later
draft picks are valued at $150,000 each.