Rene Fasel, the pliant head of the International Ice Hockey Federation, has indicated that the IIHF will give Jiri Hudler his transfer card regardless of the feelings of USA Hockey so that he can begin playing for Dynamo Moscow of the KHL:
“We’ll give the American side some space, so they can explain their reasons for their unwillingness to confirm the transfer card,” the Russian RIA Novosti news agency quotes Fasel as saying. “If we see the reasons are not that important, we’ll give him the card ourselves.”
This despite Hudler having filed for arbitration as a restricted free agent, which would require him to play at least one more year for the Detroit Red Wings. Fasel himself recognizes that his organization is to blame as the precedent was set with the poaching of Alexander Radulov despite a contract with the Nashville Predators:
“It all started with the (Alexander) Radulov case, who left Nashville for Ufa under the valid contract (last season), and the IIHF did not interfere,” Fasel said. “We do not like it, because players must fulfill contractual obligations. Now we have changed our rules a little, because the NHL is not included in the IIHF family. But in any case, everyone should obey the law.
This is one more flashpoint between the three sides as the Russian Federation refuses to signed a transfer agreement and the NHL threatens to end its Olympic participation after Vancouver 2010. This would keep any Russians in the NHL from participating in the 2014 Sochi Games, which prompted Capitals' superstar Alexander Ovechkin to state that he'd quit the NHL in order to play in his homeland. To top it all off, this conflict has played out against the drastic decline of Russians in the NHL.
The NHL, KHL, and IIHF are scheduled to meet in Zurich on September 29, 2009 prior to the Victoria Cup between the Chicago Blackhawks and the ZSC Lions to try to come to an agreement on at least some of the flashpoints. At this point, we're more likely to see the Phoenix Coyotes' saga end.