Nice to see a group of international lawyers hired by the International Ice Hockey Federation discover what Sid Dithers (obscure reference) would have been capable of uncovering: Alexander Radulov “was under a binding and valid contract with the NHL’s Nashville Predators” when he signed a deal this past summer with Salavat Ufa of the Kontinental League.
Boy, that must have been a difficult nut to crack. Radulov was entering the third year of an entry-level contract he signed of his own volition when he agreed to another deal with Ufa. Exactly what part of that was so difficult for the “group of international lawyers” to unravel?
That’s pretty much all the IIHF had to say on the matter Wednesday, then turtled on the whole thing by effectively saying a breach of contract is not nice, but it’s powerless to do anything about it.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has publicly wondered about the IIHF’s cajones and opined that KHL president and IIHF executive council member Alexander Medvedev has the IIHF in his back pocket. When they do stuff like this, it’s difficult to argue Daly’s logic.
If the IIHF looks on breach of contract with such disdain, it should immediately bar Radulov – and anyone else who does the same thing on either side of the ocean - from any international play. But Radulov is playing in the IIHF-sponsored Champions League and will almost certainly be allowed to represent his country at the World Championship.
As it turns out, all that hooey about “red flagging” players who breach their contracts was nothing but an empty threat. Take the 2010 Olympics away from Radulov and at least show you’re serious about this.
HAMMERING THE HAMMER
You have to feel for the good people of Hamilton, who are being jerked around again with the false hope an NHL team is going to magically land in their city.
Ever since Peter Pocklington used Hamilton to get a better deal for his Edmonton Oilers 20 years ago, the people of the hard-working city have clung to the hope they will someday get the NHL team they feel they deserve. And with Jim Balsillie resurfacing as a potential minority-stake owner in the Nashville Predators, the NHL-going-to-Hamilton delusion has, once again, made headlines.
Too bad. Hamilton probably deserves an NHL team, but does anyone actually think the league is ever going there? Even if all the dominos fall Balsillie’s way and he ends up with a minority ownership that could eventually become a majority, does anyone think the powerful NHL is going to stand by while he puts a team in a place with a depressed economy, a small corporate base and an antiquated arena?
Of course not. And that’s not mentioning the mighty Toronto Maple Leafs, who don’t seem to have interest in giving up any of their market. Why should they? If you had a monopoly over millions of the most devoted hockey fans in the world, would you be willing to give it up?
As romantic and idealistic as it sounds, the NHL will grow in Canada when it is good and ready to.
And that doesn’t seem to be any time soon.
Suffice it to say if rumors are true, the members of Russian team Metallurg Magnitogorsk are not too pleased with Ryan Callahan these days.
Callahan scored with 21 seconds remaining to give the New York Rangers a 4-3 win over Metallurg in their Victoria Cup game Wednesday night.
It was rumored the owner of the Russian team promised his players $100,000 each if they were able to beat the Rangers.
THE NUMBERS GAME
Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks isn’t the only good young player who might be in the minors to start the season because of payroll constraints.
Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner has impressed so far in camp, but with the Capitals right up against the cap, Alzner may have to start the season in the minors because Washington might not have the salary flexibility to keep him.
The Capitals’ payroll is slightly less than $59 million, but they’ll get $2.5 million in relief if they put Brian Pothier on the long-term injury list. That still puts them right up against the cap and since all potential bonuses for rookies count against the cap this season, Alzner’s hit is $1.675 million.
Going into Wednesday night’s pre-season game against Philadelphia, Alzner had played two games and logged serious ice time. He played 22 minutes in one game and 21:16 in the other, including 5:02 and 4:19 in shorthanded ice time.
On merit, Alzner probably deserves a chance to start the season in Washington, but until the Capitals sort out their cap situation, he could find himself in the minors.
Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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