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Russia turns down four-year player transfer deal

5/9/2007 - NHL

MOSCOW -- Russia refused to sign a new four-year player
agreement regulating transfers from Europe to the NHL.

The Russian federation refused to sign because it wants the NHL
to honor its league contracts. All other International Ice Hockey
Federation member associations ratified the agreement by the
Tuesday midnight deadline.

Russian federation president Vladislav Tretiak said Russian
clubs agreed "almost unanimously'' not to sign.

NHL clubs are forbidden from acquiring players already under
contract in Russia, but can take free agents without paying
compensation. However, Russian players can easily break their
contracts, freeing them to sign with an NHL team.

The IIHF and the NHL have had agreements in place for the past
12 years, and the most recent two-year agreement did not include
Russia.

The new agreement runs until the 2010-11 season, and includes an
annual development fee paid by the NHL to the IIHF. The money will
then be distributed by the IIHF to the national associations and
their clubs.

By refusing to sign, the Russian federation will lose its
players for nothing.

The agreement also includes a deadline for NHL clubs to sign
players during the offseason.

About 30 percent of the NHL's players come from Europe, and
between 45 and 60 players are signed from European countries each
year.

The IIHF was close to getting Russia to agree to a deal last
year, but it was turned down by owners of elite Russian league
clubs, who demanded millions of dollars in compensation for losing
top players like Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Evgeni
Malkin.

The Russian federation's refusal to sign the agreement has led
to several court cases on both sides of the Atlantic.