Lately, the situation between the KHL and NHL has been a bit tense.
The armies of general managers, agents, league officials and lawyers have been holed up in their Cold War-era situation rooms for the weeks following the KHL’s July 15 moratorium on signing players under NHL contracts. The begrudging “respect” was borne of the mutually-assured destruction that would take place were one side to openly attack the other.
What the Kings just did is the equivalent of dropping a neutron bomb on Leningrad, then sent a teletype to Kruschev making light of his mother’s weight problem, indicating that, were she to sit around the Kremlin, she would sit AROUND the Kremlin.
It’s on now (click for moon language-y goodness, but good on the Ruskies for using WordPress).
“The Continental Hockey League strictly adhered to the unilaterally declared moratorium on signing players who had existing contracts with the National Hockey League clubs. The NHL violated the earlier agreement in Zurich on August 28 and formally announced the signing of contracts by the Los Angeles Kings club with players Andrei Loktionovym and Vyacheslav Voynovym. These players have existing contracts with KHL clubs “Lokomotiv” (Yaroslavl) and “Tractor” (Chelyabinsk), respectively.
“In connection with this, the KHL considers itself free from any obligations to comply with the previously announced moratorium on transferring players. On September 6 at the headquarters of the International Hockey Federation in Zurich, there will be a meeting on this topic, after which the Continental Hockey League will determine further action regarding the National Hockey League.”
Whether or not their KHL contracts were actually valid is a point I’m sure the Kings would deny profusely, but regardless, why pry open this can of worms right now? It’s not as though the Kings didn’t retain their rights, and it’s not as though these kids are likely to make the big club this year. Lombardi had previously said they’re open to playing in North America regardless of it being the NHL or in juniors, and certainly they wanted to get them signed before they put pen to paper on a long-term KHL deal, but I would have to think someone at the NHL’s head office would say to Dean Lombardi (and I’m sure he consulted them on this), “Uhh, Dean, this seems like a pretty bad idea right now.”
Who’s to say that a transfer agreement of some kind couldn’t have been reached before next year’s draft? Who’s to say these kids would have signed a KHL contract for five years and a lot more than the Kings can give them, as is Lombardi’s fear? If they’re so committed to North America, then getting them to sign at any point would have been simple enough.
I understand that this might all be posturing from KHL officials like the Filatov situation. The NHL says Russian Super League contracts never carried over to the KHL, the KHL says they did. That’s for the IIHF to decide.
But why would Lombardi stir the pot to begin with? There’s nothing to be gained by this aside from two mid-level prospects. Doesn’t seem worth it to me.