MOSCOW -- Russia is unlikely to sign a new four-year player
agreement regulating transfers from Europe to the NHL.
Russian hockey federation president Vladislav Tretiak said
Tuesday that 80 percent of his nation's clubs were dissatisfied
with the terms.
"We are not yet happy," he said. "We are in negotiations."
The International Ice Hockey Federation's national associations
have until midnight Tuesday to ratify the latest agreement between
the IIHF and the NHL.
About 30 percent of the NHL's players come from Europe. The NHL
annually signs 45 to 60 players from European countries.
The IIHF and the NHL have had agreements in place for the last
12 years. The most recent two-year agreement did not include Russia
because it wants the NHL to honor its league contracts.
NHL clubs are forbidden from acquiring players already under
contract in Russia, but can take free agents without paying
compensation. However, Russian players can still easily break their
contracts, freeing them to sign with an NHL team.
"Russia would like a friendship with the NHL," Tretiak said at
hockey's world championships. "Today it's very simple to take
hockey players. Two weeks and each guy can go. The NHL every year
gets Russian players. If the players want to go to the NHL then OK,
after their contract [ends]."
The proposed agreement would run until the 2010-11 season, and
would include an annual development fee paid by the NHL to the
IIHF. The money would then be distributed by the IIHF to the
national associations and their clubs. The Russian federation could
lose players for nothing by refusing to sign.
"Russia has a lot of money," Tretiak said with a shrug.
The agreement also includes a deadline for NHL clubs to sign
players during the offseason.
The IIHF was close to getting Russia to agree to a deal last
year but was turned down by owners of elite Russian league clubs,
who demanded millions of dollars in compensation for losing top
players such as Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Evgeni
The lack of an agreement has resulted in several court cases on
both sides of the Atlantic.