The NHL refuses to entertain compensation offers from a newly formed Russian hockey league for the signing of forward Alex Radulov while the player was under contract with the Nashville Predators.
And until Radulov’s contract with the Predators is honoured, the NHL won’t consider negotiating a player transfer agreement with the Continental Hockey League (KHL), NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press in an e-mail on Monday.
“The bottom line from our perspective is that the player has a contract which our rules obligate him to respect,” Daly said. “Our rules don’t recognize a player (or his new team) being able to ‘buy’ the way out of an existing contract. It’s not a scenario that our existing rules contemplate or allow.”
Radulov is at the centre of a controversy between the NHL and the KHL after the player signed with KHL’s Ufa last month.
KHL president Alexander Medvedev said Radulov’s signing was legal because it occurred days before the leagues reached an agreement to not sign players under contract. Medvedev added that Ufa has since made an offer to compensate the Predators, but has yet to receive a response.
Daly said he isn’t aware if an offer was made, but insisted that such a deal wouldn’t be accepted.
The Predators declined comment, deferring the matter to the NHL.
The exchange between league officials came after Medvedev met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman last week in an attempt to secure a formal player transfer agreement that would provide compensation for teams in both leagues that lose players. Medvedev said he presented the NHL with a framework of a deal that would provide a formula for compensation based on the age of a player, how high he was drafted, and other variable factors.
Daly said the NHL is open to negotiating such a deal, but not until the Radulov issue is resolved.
Medvedev said there is no mechanism in the KHL rules to force Radulov’s return to the NHL, and said the matter might have to be resolved in court.
He argued that Radulov’s case is no different than NHL teams signing Nikita Filatov, Viktor Tikhonov, Jason Krog, Tomas Mojzis and Fedor Fedorov, all of whom he said were under contract in Russia.
Daly disputes that claim, saying the league has documentation stating that those players were free to sign with their respective NHL teams.
The International Ice Hockey Federation is investigating the status of all six players, including Radulov. The IIHF doesn’t have the authority to rescind contracts, but could bar players from taking part in international competitions, including the Olympics.
Medvedev, last weekend, announced the KHL has extended a moratorium preventing its teams from signing NHL players under contract.
“We should forget emotions and we should start a new life with a transfer agreement in place,” Medvedev said. “But without such an agreement, if somebody will break the moratorium … then it will be everybody could take any player and it will not be good for hockey.”
Daly dismissed the moratorium by questioning why one was necessary.
“The KHL shouldn’t need a ‘moratorium’ to adhere to a policy of respecting legal and binding contractual commitments,” Daly said.