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George Zoran
Top Prospect

55 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2006 :  07:49:53  Show Profile
After a week of ‘Where’s Waldo’ jokes, Evgeni Malkin, the best player in the world yet to don an NHL sweater has turned up safe and sound in Los Angeles. Last we heard he had left his club in Finland and was rumored to be hiding out somewhere in North America.

The Russian Ice Hockey Federation is calling this a defection and is threatening to sue the Pittsburgh Penguins over it.

The NHL and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation do not currently have a transfer agreement in place and many feel that Malkin’s situation is the cause of this. In previous agreements, the Federation negotiated compensation for the players sent from Russia to the NHL. Now individual franchises want that power. And who could blame them. Under the new proposed agreement, Malkin’s club in Russia (Metallurg Magnitogorsk ) would get a meager $200,000 as compensation for the loss of his services. One could easily argue that he would be able to produce much more than $200,000 for the club if he remained in Russia.

I am sure that Metallurg Magnitogorsk realized that Malkin would eventually play in the NHL. What the club wanted was the ability to negotiate on a player-by-player basis similar to that of Football (Soccer) clubs in Europe.

Malkin has said all along that he wants to play in the NHL and that is why the announcement that he signed on with the Russian club for another season came as a surprise. Reports now say that he was coerced in to signing the deal.

Since he wanted to play in the NHL, which did not have a standing agreement with the Russian league, Malkin followed the general Russian labor law requiring two weeks notice be given in order to void an employment contract. Then he fled to Los Angeles, and his agents kept his whereabouts a secret.

This story reminds us of Alexander Mogilny’s defection from Russia to Buffalo in 1989, which started the flood of Russian talent to the NHL.

And we thought the cold war was over.

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