Federations' refusal could affect NHL's Turin plans

Updated: August 15, 2005, 4:04 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press