Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Have You Seen This Man?

Ok, how long does it take to get to North America? First he defects on Saturday and then yesterday we found out that he signed his new RSL contract at 3 am (so at least we know that story from last week is true) but now nobody seems to know where this guy is right now and the people who should know, apparently aren't talking anymore after yesterday's non-update update.

So the question begs, just where is he and why hasn't he come out of hiding yet? If Malkin had such a rock-solid case of giving a team two weeks notice and then leaving with no strings attached, why would he have to go the defector's route? Just give your two weeks notice after signing the new contact and then take off. Surely Metallurg was aware of the two week notice provision and I can't imagine they wouldn't have done something about it in the new 3 am contract. So again, what is he hiding from right now? I personally think the answer is pretty obvious, but why nobody wants to talk about it is beyond me. Do he and his handlers think that he can stay in hiding and play for the Penguins at the same time? (Well, considering the attendance issues in Pittsburgh, he just might...)

Furthermore, this whole sordid affair doesn't speak well for the type of person that Malkin is. He has shown very little backbone and seems to be easily swayed by whoever is currently surrounding him. While those traits could end up making him the perfect player for Pittsburgh, one must wonder how he will acquit himself in the NHL when the going gets tough. Will he runaway again?

Who knows how this is going to play out, but one thing is for certain, it will be ugly no matter how this situation comes to a conclusion.

UPDATE: Malkin gives his two weeks notice, again.

A few things here, #1. A two weeks notice means you actually work those last two weeks before you leave. Malkin clearly is not fulfilling that provision so isn't this notice null and void on a technicality? Doesn't he owe Metallurg at least two weeks of work before he can legally depart? #2. How does Rooskie law handle a two weeks notice filed after the employee in question undeniably breaches his contract? Inquiring minds want to know. #3. As I said earlier today, Metallurg had to have been aware of Malkin's "two weeks notice" rights when they did the 3 am contract. Why didn't Metallurg take precautions against this provision in the 3 am contract? #4. As I've said before, even though Malkin can "walk away" with a two weeks notice, Metallurg can move to block Malkin's departure if they are able to prove that losing him would be harmful to their operation. This would seem to me to be a slam dunk case for Matallurg. Furthermore, why would Metallurg forgo this route for a talent like Malkin when TSN.ca is reporting that Yaroslavl is considering doing just this for Alexi Mikhnov? (Maybe that's why Metallurg did not bother to put a provision in, but even if they knew that they had a slam dunk case, why bother putting yourself at risk for an extra expense?)

I personally see no way that the NHL can ratify a contract from Pittsburgh for Malkin. There are way too many legal entanglements right now. If the NHL does however ratify a contract for Malkin in Pittsburgh, they'll lose all sorts of credibility with their fans (because they have made it clear that Russian players have to secure their own release through legal channels) but most importantly, with the IIHF. The transfer agreement expires next year and if the NHL and/or Pittsburgh had anything to do with this defection (including welcoming him into the NHL when he was still under contract elsewhere), it will only make things harder for them going forward.

Finally, it is nice to see that the rumor of Malkin hanging out with A.O. in Toronto appears to be unfounded but is instead stashed at Vice President Dick Cheney's ubiquitous "undisclosed location." But again I ask, why is he hiding?

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