Key NHL/IIHF meeting set for Zurich on Wednesday postponed

Just why exactly seems up for debate. The IIHF sent out a letter to federations Tuesday advising them that the meeting, to be held at its Swiss headquarters, needed to be re-scheduled because the NHLPA, going through turbulent times, could not send a representative.

But the union issued a statement giving a different reason.

“The NHLPA was fully prepared to take part in the IIHF meetings but informed the NHL in advance of the meetings that we would not be consenting to a new transfer agreement until we had an opportunity to complete our analysis of potential agreement structures,” the statement said. “The NHL and the NHLPA agreed that it was appropriate to defer the meetings for a short period of time until the NHLPA analysis is complete.”

Ted Saskin was originally scheduled to represent the players’ union at Wednesday’s meeting until the executive director was sent home last week on a paid leave of absence because of allegations that he read NHLPA player e-mails.

“I certainly understand why the meeting had to be cancelled given the circumstances, but this is something we’ve been working on with the IIHF and the Players’ Association for quite some time,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

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“I would very much like to bring the agreement to closure so that players and clubs know what their rights are as we head into a busy signing season for next year. We can’t let the calendar slip away on this one.”

The current IIHF/NHL agreement, which does not include Russia, expires at the end of this season. It is hoped that the Russians this time will agree to sign the new four-year agreement which is slated to run from 2007 to 2011. Russia was slated to be present at Wednesday’s meeting.

The NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and international federations from Russia, Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, Germany, Switzerland and the Czech Republic need to sign off on the new agreement, which governs players drafted from their countries by NHL teams and the compensation they receive for them.