Thursday, August 03, 2006

Deadline Schmedline..

Russia flat out says no.

So no Malkin or any other RSL player this year. The Rooskies didn't even wait for the deadline to approach. They didn't even bother with the obligatory phony hand wringing and sweating over the deal. Face with a deadline, they just flat out said, "ok, no deal, we don't need to think about this."

This could get really, really ugly folks. Should the NHL follow through with the threat and not allow the Russian NHLers to play in the World Championship, watch the reverse defection take place. Rooskies care about playing for their country and if playing the in NHL interferes with that, well then good-bye NHL!

Once the NHL contracts for these players are up, say good-bye to them. Sure some guys could go Alexander Semin and just ignore the NHL contract and play in Russia. However, those players run the risk of the IIHF barring them from International Competition because they are ignoring a contract that is in force. We'll soon see if a player like A.O. will put $$$$$ ahead of country. If this situation is not worked out, the Caps will have to give him a max contract in two years when his rookie deal expires in order to compete.

Of course, the NHL could allow the Russian players to play in International Competition despite the lack of a transfer agreement and avoid a mass exodus back to Russia. But I doubt that gesture of goodwill will mean anything beyond that. If the NHL wants a transfer agreement, they are going to have to cave into the RSL's demands and allow the individual teams to broker agreements with the Russian clubs. Soccer already does it, so it is not as if the Rooskies are asking for anything out of the ordinary here.

But this is going to drive up the cost of doing business and drafting Russians into the NHL. Other European leagues are likely to quickly follow suit if the RSL gets their way making, international drafting a risky business. Teams will likely pass on the marginal players and pay the big bucks for the superstar talent. While folks like Don Cherry smile at the thought of less European players, this could end up declining the quality of play in the NHL.

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