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Aug. 16, 2005
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Russia Gave Up Initiative to Americans
// Hockey Agreement
Yesterday, the term of agreement between International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and National Hockey League (NHL), as it was proposed by Americans, has expired. The presidents of Russian clubs confirmed one more time that they are not intend to ratify this agreement. They want the clubs to negotiate among themselves without any middlemen.
Two and half weeks ago the presidents of Russian clubs refused to ratify new version of agreement between IIHF and NHL, which provides increase of compensation pay for European teams whose players move to North America. A week ago, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman flew to Moscow to talk with heads of the Russian teams, to learn their position and to try soften up their stance. After that the presidents consulted with the owners of the clubs (directors of the companies and heads of the city and regional administrations), then they gathered in Moscow and again refused to approve the agreement signing.

Yesterday, the president of Hockey Federation of Russia (HFR) Alexaner Steblin and vice-president of Professional Hockey League (PHL) Vladimir Shalaev one more time made a telephone call to presidents of all super league clubs. The presidents said that their position has not changed. They still insist to include into the text of the agreement that NHL will recognize the Russian contracts between a player and a club. Americans are totally against that. If NHL would go along with Russian proposal, than the agreement is loosing all its sense Ц the clubs would be able to negotiate amount of compensation directly with each other.

Rene Fasel, president of IIHF, was informed about the opinion Russian clubsТ presidents. Today, Fasel should relay this opinion to Bettman. From now on, everything will depend of Americans Ц if they will not propose another version of agreement, than it would not be signed at all.

However, the events might develop in different direction. The heads of the federation have a bit different position towards the agreement. They are sure that if the agreement will not be signed the way it is, than Europe might not get anything at all from NHL. For that reason the Federation leans toward the Czech scenario. The Czech hockey officials were also against the agreement in its present form. However, Czechs agreed to remove the demand about the contracts recognition by NHL. But in exchange they demanded to increase the compensation for leaving players (up to $350,000 for each one, and not only for those who got into the first round of draft), to decrease the agreement from 5 to 3 years, and also to provide a guaranty to a player that he can come back into the national championship if he fails to be included into the playing staff of the American team. It is possible that HFR might persuade the super league club presidents to chose this way.

As Kommersant found out, the HFR and PHL are intend to ask Duma to come up with amendment to the Law about Professional Sports, according to which the relationship between the athletes and the club are built on the base of Labor Code. If this amendment would be adopted, than the Russian clubs would not have to demand from NHL recognition of Russian contracts. In this case, the clubs would be able to negotiate all the contractual moments among them. And the players would be responsible with their property if they would break agreement with a Russian club and flee across the ocean.

All the Article in Russian as of Aug. 16, 2005

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