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Thread: Swedish clubs also reject to sign NHL-IIHF agreement

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    IHF Member kedr's Avatar
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    Sweden Swedish clubs also reject to sign NHL-IIHF agreement

    Russian newspaper "Sport-Express" informs that Sweden clubs will not prolong NHL-Europe agreement at 01.01.2008.

    They want strict deadline (May or June) for NHL to sign players, increasing of 2 years period for NHL to get drafted players (now NHL clubs get very young players just not to lose them) and bigger compensation.
    Salavat - green rockets!

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    IHF Staff Jazz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kedr View Post
    Russian newspaper "Sport-Express" informs that Sweden clubs will not prolong NHL-Europe agreement at 01.01.2008.

    They want strict deadline (May or June) for NHL to sign players, increasing of 2 years period for NHL to get drafted players (now NHL clubs get very young players just not to lose them) and bigger compensation.
    This might have something to do with it:
    http://www.aftonbladet.se/sportblade...icle1337510.ab
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    Its good for the Swedish leauge. To many swedish players and to many young swedish players have gone to the NHL. The small money from NHL are nothing for the rich swedish clubs. We are better of whit out a deal whit NHL. The Sweden leauge are not one of NHL:s farm leuages.

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    IHF Member Tobias's Avatar
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    I can understand why the Swedish clubs don't like the agreement. They spend huge amounts of money on developing talents, and they only get peanuts in return compared to keeping the player.
    But the NHL just doesn't seem willing to pay - they were planning a decrease in the money they pay.

    Looks like a serious problem.

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    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    The thing with the NHL is that they now realise that they can probably get away with getting the best players, no agreement necessary. Look at the Ovechkin deal, or Malkin, or etc etc etc with Russian players.
    Now we're seeing Russian clubs trying to repay the favour, so i guess it stands to reason we'll see the same with Swedish clubs now...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    The thing with the NHL is that they now realise that they can probably get away with getting the best players, no agreement necessary. Look at the Ovechkin deal, or Malkin, or etc etc etc with Russian players.
    Now we're seeing Russian clubs trying to repay the favour, so i guess it stands to reason we'll see the same with Swedish clubs now...
    Yes NHL will get the most topplayers so long NHL can pay them better, but if Sweden drops out no players whit contract can goes to the NHL. And we will see fewer young sweds in the leauge becaurs the deal force NHL to dicede which players they want two years in advance.

    The deal are not good for NHL and not good for the Sweden hockey leauge. Its better if the players stay in Sweden 2-3 years longer so the players NHL bring over are ready for NHL. Its not good if young players sign up whit a NHL team and are transfer down to AHL its better for them to stay in Sweden and develop, the best of them will later go to NHL and the rest will stay in the Sweden leauge.

    Its a win-win situation. I like NHL and think its good for a small sport like hockey to have a leauge like NHL how intresst people outside hockey countrys and help hockey to grove stronger global but its not good if NHL takes players they dont need from leauges how needs them to bulit stronger.

    I must blame IIHF a bit. IIHF, this organisation are a joke, its to week and lake great visions for the future. Its more importent for IIHF to have a deal whit NHL no mattet what deal. They dont care if its a good deal or not.

    For the moment its better to not have a deal, better for the Sweden and Russian leauges and better for NHL. Its no point to take over europeen players if you have the same players in Canada or USA, player for the 3.e and 4.e line and players for the AHL. In the future we can hope that Europeen clubs can compite better for the best players but for now the best are that NHL only takes the best and not the 2:e best or the 3.e best europeens players.

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs
    Now we're seeing Russian clubs trying to repay the favour, so i guess it stands to reason we'll see the same with Swedish clubs now...
    The Russian clubs' opposition to the NHL-IIHF agreement is basically about money. They don't feel they are fairly compensated for the talents they develop. They believe that the compensation should be market based, and often refer to the FIFA transfer rules as a model on which a future NHL-IIHF agreement should be built.

    The Swedish Elitserien club's opposition to the NHL-IIHF agreement is not so much about money as about the whole structure of the agreement. They do however emphasize two features about which they are particularly unhappy:

    1. The fact that the NHL clubs can sign Elitserien players under contract by a certain day in the off-season (two years ago it was 24 August, last year it was 15 June).
    As the Swedish clubs start their preparations for the next season in April (if not before), contracting existing and new players, the NHL-IIHF agreement makes it very difficult for them to make proper preparations and run their clubs and their league professionally.

    2. The NHL signs too many Swedish players, they don't (intend to?) use. Last year, the NHL signed 65 Swedish players, but only 7 became regular NHL -players. The Swedish clubs are very firm about this: the number of Swedish players, the NHL can sign per season should be limited significantly.

    3. Many of the Swedish players are too young when they sign with an NHL club. Most of them never make it to the NHL but roam around in the AHL and ECHL for years before they return to Elitserien as lesser players (cf. our discussion on IIHF study). This is bad for the players who waste their talents, for the clubs who waste their investment in developing the players and for the Swedish league.
    Position: The NHL clubs must not be allowed to sign any Swedish players within 2 years after they have been drafted.

    The Elitserien clubs have received strong support from the Swedish hockey federation. So this means that Sweden will pull out of the NHL-IIHF agreement by 1 January 2008.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    The thing with the NHL is that they now realise that they can probably get away with getting the best players, no agreement necessary. Look at the Ovechkin deal, or Malkin, or etc etc etc with Russian players.
    If the NHL signs a Swedish player who is under contract with a Swedish club, the Swedish player will be barred from returning to any Swedish club for a number of years (usually at least two years). Since it is far from certain that even the best Swedish players can become NHL regulars if they sign an NHL contract (cf. the stories of Magnus Johansson and Anton Strålman), I think its safe to say that this will put an effective stop to transfers from Elitserien to NHL until the NHL gives in and offer a better deal. No player will dare taking the risk.

    I think there are at least two deeper reasons why the move by the Swedish clubs is not unexpected:

    1. Elitserien has been a professional league for years, but in recent years it has become ever more businessminded. Brand new arenas are being built, and the clubs are attempting to offer the whole package with dining opportunities and various sorts of entertainment (like in the NHL). Still, the most important ingredient in this package is what takes place on the ice. If their business is to develop it is essential that the league can keep and attract some of Sweden's and Europe's finest hockey players. The clubs accept the fact that they cannot keep their very best players, and they don't want to stop these players from seeking their fortune in the NHL (which remain a dream for most hockey players), but they feel that the NHlL are signing too many Swedish players they don't use, and that too many Swedish prospects are signed when they are still too young.

    2. After Russia refused to sign the NHL-IIHF agreement two years ago, the NHL became too aggressive in its negotiation with the IIHF. The NHL reduced its offer of funds alotted to compensate European clubs from $12 mio to $9 mio and insisted the NHL clubs could sign any European player under contract until 24 August - i.e. just shortly before the European leagues started - in the first year. Bettman made clear that the NHL's offer was a ´take it-or leave it'.

    But now, Sweden has finally had enough. And they are not alone. The spokesman of the Swedish hockey federation, Christer Englund has said that several European countries have complained about the NHL-IIHF agreement in recent months. How the IIHF will react, remains to be seen, but the opposition among the European countries is now so strong, that Englund expects that the IIHF will suspend the NHL-IIHF agreement. This decision may be taken sooner than later.

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    Good for the Swedes. I hope the Finns and Czechs follow suit. As net importers of talent, though, perhaps this approach may benefit the Swiss & Germans less? Also, how would this apply to a player such as Kopitar, who is not a Swede, but developed in SE juniors?

    Aside from footy, and (arguably) basketball, hockey is the only sport that is fully professional in more than a dozen countries, and I believe that the "world's best league" will have to be forced (like most NA corprations) to take a more "sustainable" approach to resource development/extraction. If an NHL club has paid a substantial transfer fee for a prospect (or contracted pro), they will be forced to be more selective, and less wasteful (I would hope).

    However, the intro of FIFA-style transfer rules would open another huge gap btwn the NHL's rich and poor clubs (i.e. the Leafs could spend $10m a year on such transfers without blinking, while a Nashville or Pittsburgh could be destroyed by a few that didn't pan out).
    Having just won a labour war over a salary cap (i.e. "cost certainty"), I can see (from a pure $ standpoint) why the Bettman NHL would balk at this.

  9. #9
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    1. "The Swedish clubs are very firm about this: the number of Swedish players, the NHL can sign per season should be limited significantly."

    2. "The NHL clubs must not be allowed to sign any Swedish players within 2 years after they have been drafted."

    These are two positions that NHL clubs will NEVER agree to.

    As to #1, it is contrary to the principles of a free and open market, and, under U.S. law at least, would be viewed as an illegal restraint on trade.

    #2 is more interesting, at least to me. It boils down to an examination of what NHL scouting is all about. NHL clubs spend a large amount of money on scouting staffs, which they place all around the hockey playing world looking for NHL caliber talent - or, more accurately, players with the real potential to have NHL caliber talent in the future. It is always an inexact science, and most draft picks indeed never make the NHL. Scouts are, of course, looking for those rare players who can step right in to the NHL, but those are few and far between. Rather, what NHL scouts are looking for on a regular basis are players that they feel can be further developed and then be good NHL players down the road, because that is what happens way more frequently than finding a player who can jump right in to the NHL. Also, every NHL club can spot an instant star - what the scouts are trying to do is find a guy that other NHL teams might not realize can be great down the road, and therefore draft him in the later rounds, without having to expend a high draft pick on him. Draft picks are assets/resources to NHL clubs, and if a player can be taken in a later round rather than in an earlier round, that is always what an NHL club would prefer to do. What Swedish hockey proposes to do would essentially kill the NHL scouting process - the process of looking for "diamonds in the rough," and I suspect that the NHL will never agree to that.

    Sweden, I suspect, will end up like Russia if they back out of the NHL-IIHF transfer agreement, or if the entire agreement collapses - the NHL will get 90% of the players they want anyway, and the European clubs will be left with the rest, and without receiving any form of compensation. Guys who spend more than 2 seasons in the minors in North America will probably dishonor their contracts and bolt back to Sweden, or other leagues in Europe, rather than wait and see if they can make the NHL in another year or two. And even if Sweden bars re-entry for such players for a number of years if they buck the Swedish federation and sign a two-way NHL contract, there will always be some other European league that will want their talents and be willing to pay for it, such as the DEL, NLA or EBEL league - or perhaps even RSL or Belarus Extraligue.

    I believe that if Sweden joins Russia and refuses to take part in the agreement moving forward, the entire transfer agreement with the NHL & IIHF will collapse. In the end, I think that is a bad scenario for both sides - but the European clubs will be hurt more than the NHL, simply because of the NHL's economic clout and prestige. I'm not saying the current agreement is ideal, or even as fair as it should be. But Swedish hockey will be more hurt without any agreement than with some form of agreement. Love it or hate it, the NHL is a juggernaut that cannot be simply ignored.

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Marc B,

    Well, perhaps the NHL will have to swollow this.

    ad. 1. You're mixing things up. Players are not a commodity, and there's no such thing as international free movement of labour, not even according to U.S. law. Otherwise, green cards wouldn't exist, would they?

    ad. 2. Enough has been said about this. If you don't understand or accept the conclusions of the IIHF study, that's your business. The conclusions are a reality for the Elitserien clubs, and they are taking steps accordingly.

    What will happen remains to be seen. The Czech Republic will surely follow Sweden's (and Russia's way). But they are not the only countries raising complaints about the IIHF-NHL deal. My guess is that the IIHF has no other option than to suspend the agreement. It was the IIHF that negotiated the agreement on behalf of the European countries.

    And if everything turns sour, I wouldn't be surprised if the European countries make a mutual agreement barring any player who has unlawfully broken his contract with a club in a European league from re-entering European leagues. Seems to be the most rational thing to do. The European countries are used to cooperate on this.

    Also don't forget that if a player breaks his contract and transfer to the NHL, he may be sentenced a stiff fine if his club decide to take the issue to the national courts; if he refuse to pay this fine, he cannot return to his native country on holidays (to visit his family, friends etc.) as he may be send to jail (which in turn means no NHL). In addition to this, he may be barred from playing in the national jersey, something that matters a lot to most European players. He becomes in effect what he is...a pariah.

    So don't hold your breath. The Swedish Elitserien clubs know exactly what they're doing.
    Last edited by Karsten; 03-12-2007 at 02:08.

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    One more thing, Marc B., its funny that you refer to the law when the fact is that the NHL is the only league in the world that doesn't respect the rule of law in other hockey countries, or the rule of law in international hockey for that matter.

    Take for instance the International Transfer Regulations laid down by the IIHF and its member countries (including Canada and the USA I suppose):

    §11.2. A professional player under contract may not transfer from his member national association as long as he is bound by his contract, provided the contract is not in opposition to the Statutes, By-laws and regulations of the IIHF and to the laws of the country of his member national association.

    All hockey national hockey leagues respect this fundamental regulation, but the NHL. Is this acceptable?

    §11.3 Contracts concluded between clubs and players must be of specific duration. During the period of an existing contract a player shall not be approached by an official of any other club, or by a person in connection with any other club, in membership with another member national association with the goal of inducing the player to breach his current contract and to join a new club.

    Quite obvious exactly what the NHL clubs are doing with the NHL draft and after a player has been drafted.

    §10.10 A player who has been summoned by his selective national association for one of its representative teams, shall not be entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released.

    §10.11 If a club refuses to release a player or neglects to do do despite the provisions as specified above, the following sanctions shall be applied:
    a) a fine
    b) a caution, censure, or suspension of the club concerned

    §10.12 Any violation by a club of the restriction on playing under article 10.10 shall be subject to the following sanctions

    a) all or part of the sanctions under article 10.11
    b) the member national association to which the club belongs shall declare the match or matches, in which the player took part, forfeit by the club concerned.

    If these international rules were followed and enforced by the book, the NHL clubs would be forced to release any national player for the world championships, olympics etc. If the clubs continue to prohibit their players to go, they would be fined, suspended and their play-off games declared forfeited

    But the sorry fact is that the NHL, as the only league in the world, believe it is entitled to ignore the international rule of law - just like a dictator believes that the rule of law doesn't apply to him, his family, and friends. Now, what kind of attitude is that?

    So let us rejoice that the European hockey powers are finally awakening. This injustice cannot go on forever.

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    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    There is no such thing as free movement of labor throughout the world.

    However, if a player is signed by an NHL team, he will apply for (and in all likelihood be granted) a valid work permit. U.S. law would not worry about IIHF regulations, as the IIHF is not a sovereign government. A U.S. court may, however, enforce a contract that is legally binding in another country with another individual club to prohibit a player from playing in the NHL for the duration of the contract with that club. Cases would be reviewed on an individual basis.

    As to the more interesting issue of the IIHF-NHL agreement, if all of the European leagues & federations banded together to force a player to be a pariah as you envisioned, then yes, the collective strength of the IIHF and the top ten or so European pro leagues/federations could serve as an effective counterbalance to the NHL. The odds of them all acting in unison are, in my opinion, very slim.

    However, I also believe that if Finland joins Russia and Sweden in opposing the NHL, that could well be enough. I don't see the Czech and Slovak federations really opposing the NHL too much - their economic situations are really much weaker than the Scandanavian leagues and the Russian league, and I don't think they'll oppose whatever the NHL offers.

    As you well know, Karsten, the NHL is not ruled by the hockey federations of the USA or Canada. The US and Canadian federations are comparatively very weak. The NHL has never been under the jurisdiction of the IIHF, and we all know that it will never subject itself to IIHF jurisdiction.

    Regardless of what penalties the federations enact for their players, the reality is that 90% of those players who are willing and able to play in the NHL right away without going to the minors first (Ovechkin, Malkin, Lundqvist,, among others) will want to do so, and will do so, regardless of the consequences back home. We saw that with the Russians and Czechs who left family and loved ones behind when their countries were under Communist rule. Surely players in free market economies won't fear being arrested if they return home to see their families despite going to the NHL. The question is whether they will care enough about being barred from Olympic and World Championship play (& domestic league play when their NHL careers are over) to prevent them from coming to the NHL. I suspect the answer is no, at least for those players who would not have to spend time in the minors.
    I also suspect that if a player was made a pariah in Sweden, for example, even if he failed to make the NHL, leagues like the RSL, DEL or EBEL would take him.

    But, that is all speculation. We'll have to wait and see. Obviously, it would be best for everybody if an equitable agreement can be reached that gives real compensation to European clubs for the players that they lose.

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Finns and Czechs likely to follow Sweden

    We are of course talking worst case scenarios here. Obviously, the parties are interested in some kind of agreement. They just disagree on the terms.

    But there is actually more to it than this. I will get back to this when I get a little more time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Brunengraber View Post
    As to the more interesting issue of the IIHF-NHL agreement, if all of the European leagues & federations banded together to force a player to be a pariah as you envisioned, then yes, the collective strength of the IIHF and the top ten or so European pro leagues/federations could serve as an effective counterbalance to the NHL. The odds of them all acting in unison are, in my opinion, very slim.

    However, I also believe that if Finland joins Russia and Sweden in opposing the NHL, that could well be enough. I don't see the Czech and Slovak federations really opposing the NHL too much - their economic situations are really much weaker than the Scandanavian leagues and the Russian league, and I don't think they'll oppose whatever the NHL offers.
    The SM-liiga clubs will have a meeting on 12 December, and its likely that Finland will follow Sweden.
    In fact, at allhockey.ru there is an interview today with Pekka Vuorinen, the executive director of the SM-Liiga. Quite interesting the headline of the interview is "Europe must Unite!".

    In the interview, Vuorinen says that the SM-liiga teams are unhappy about the NHL-IIHF agreement for basically the same reasons as the Elitserien teams. Vuorinen especially points to the very low transfer fees, whose real value has become even lower due to the decline of the dollar. Finland wants a significant increase in the compensation for signed players to the NHL. Like the Swedish teams, he also points to the fact that the European prospects are being signed too early. He says that the CBA has made the matter worse as the NHL teams now have to sign their drafted players within two years; otherwise they will no longer retain their rights. Finally, he addresses the signing deadline (15 June), but mention that the Finnish teams are less concerned about this. Finland - in particular the national federation - is also very concerned that the NHL won't promise to release national players for the Olympics.

    In any case, Vuorinen specifically declares that the Finnish teams want to re-negotiate the NHL-IIHF agreement´. What this in effect means is that Finland will follow Sweden and abandon the agreement. It will not automatically be nenewed.

    Finally, Vourinen calls for Europe to unite. "If the federations and the leagues of Europe's Group of 7 unites, it will be a very strong move. It will be in our common interest as it will strengthen our bargaining position and make it possible to achieve results faster".

    Finland is currently in contact with Sweden and Russia to find a common position, but it won't be easy. It will be even more difficult to find a new compromise with the NHL, Vourinen says.

    The Czech clubs will discuss the matter on 13 December and make a decision. It's also very likely that the Czechs will follow the Swedes. After all, the Czechs only barely endorsed the agreement two years ago. Had one more team been against the agreement, the Czechs would have followed Russia.

    In an interview today, the general secretary of the Czech federation, Martin Urban, says that he would rather not pre-judge the discussion among the Extraliga clubs. He does however point out that there is strong Czech resistance to the NHL-IIHF agreement and the clubs' dissatisfaction indeed touches on the same issues that has provoked the Swedes. Urban especially points to the two year signing rule in the CBA. "Like the Scandinavians, we also have a lot of prospects roaming around in the lower North American leagues, and we are not happy with this situation", Urban says. Furthermore, the Czechs want a significant raise in the transfer compensation sum.

    With the Swedish turnaround, I'm almost sure that the Czechs now will vote against an extension of the agreement.

    The Slovaks are not against the NHL-IIHF agreement. In fact, the Slovak extraliga teams have recently recommended to extend the agreement. However, the general secretary of the Slovak federation, Igor Nemecek has said that it is evident that the NHL must release the national players for the Olympics. Since the NHL won't promise this, Slovakia's support is also fragile. However, this doesn't matter a lot. Yesterday, Nemecek said that with Sweden's decision to abandon the agreement, we have a totally new situation which calls for re-negotiation.

    At this point, it is quite likely that the NHL-IIHF agreement will have been abandoned by Europe's big four - Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic - before New Years Eve.

    This is not to say that a new agreement cannot be made. But, hopefully, the NHL will now realize that it can no longer dictate the terms of the agreement. It's time to realize that there is a hockey world outside the NHL or that the European leagues are not merely development leagues for the NHL. Juggernaut or not.

    Both the NHL and the Europeans need to give in on their demands if a new compromise is to be found. It won't be easy.
    Last edited by Karsten; 04-12-2007 at 15:54.

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Another interview today, this time with Håkan Loob, the GM of Färjestads. The interview was made by allhockey.ru.

    Loob says that the Swedish Elitserien clubs were uninamous in their decision to reject an extension of the NHL-IIHF agreement. "We are as united as ever on the issue"

    Apart from this, I just re-iterate what I have already written on the Swedish position. The Swedish are mostly concerned about the fact that too many young Swedes roam around in the NA minors when they could develop better at home. The transfer deadline (15 June) is also a big issue for the Swedes, whereas the low transfer fees is less important than it is for Russia, Finland and the Czechs. The Swedish clubs are, after all, very profitable in general.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    The thing with the NHL is that they now realise that they can probably get away with getting the best players, no agreement necessary. Look at the Ovechkin deal, or Malkin, or etc etc etc with Russian players.
    Who is "etc" ?
    If Russian clubs signed the agreement, they would still have a dozen players leaving, and get 200 k$ for each including Ovechkin and Malkin (a sum which is worth close to nothing for such players, so they don't miss that "charity" so much).
    They didn't sign the agreement, and now there were fewer Russians going to NA than ever. In fact there were far more players going the other side. The balance in this summer clearly favors Superliga vs NHL.
    So Russia certainly doesn't regret it.

    If Sweden goes the same way, we could see the same situation : the next superstars like Bäckström or soon Hedman would still go to the NHL the same, but NHL teams would sign less Swedish marginal players, draft less Swedish kids, and none of them would be lost in the minors.
    I bet Elitserien teams would not complain about that. They don't struggle financially and don't need that money so badly.

    Slovak teams know they would lose any player anyway. What they want is money.

    Same for Czech teams but their basic point is :
    - Russian teams chase our players, care about their contracts... but are able to repay them with strong transfer fees
    - NHL teams chase our players, don't care about their contracts and just pay IIHF/NHL agreement sum (which often is no better than a Russian club transfer fee : I'm sure Liberec got much much more than 200 k$ when letting Hnilicka go to Ufa).
    That's why they didn't want to sign the agreement at first last year.


    Sidenote : a player leaving a contract without authorization can be suspended internationally by the IIHF and wouldn't ger any transfer license to play in any legal league (not just in his original club country).
    Last edited by Marc; 04-12-2007 at 17:28. Reason: some sentences were not very clear...
    That's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Bengt-Åke Gustafsson, the Swedish headcoach, add support to Elitseriens' position

    Bengt-Åke Gustafsson wasn't consulted when the Elitserien clubs unanimously decided not to extend Sweden's participation in NHL-IIHF agreement. He was only informed about this in the Swedish media.

    In an interview with the Russian Daily Sports, BÅG, however, fully support the Swedish clubs position:

    "Each year, my country loses a lot of young players. The situation has only got worse since the signing of the CBA which compels NHL club to sign their drafted players within 2 years after the draft. So recently, many players have crossed the pond when they were only 18-19 years, and this damage their hockey education which is best served at home", BÅG says.

    Commenting on the low transfer money, the NHL allot to Europe, BÅG says: "I do not think the [Swedish] clubs are primarily worried about the money. The compensation is already very small. It would of course be preferable if the transfer fees were increased, but the main problem is that Sweden loses a national treasure when our players go to North America and get stuck in the minor leagues at a too young an age.

    Like Vourinen, Gustafsson concludes the interview by urging Sweden and Russia to cooperate and coordinate their positions.

    Rene Fasel, IIHF: The NHL-IIHF agreement is a dead letter

    In the same Russian newspaper, Rene Fasel, the IIHF president says that the current NHL-IIHF agreement is now a dead letter and there is no hope that it will automatically renewed. For this reason, the IIHF has already scheduled new talks with the NHL in January.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    2. The NHL signs too many Swedish players, they don't (intend to?) use. Last year, the NHL signed 65 Swedish players, but only 7 became regular NHL -players. The Swedish clubs are very firm about this: the number of Swedish players, the NHL can sign per season should be limited significantly.
    The marked part is very hard to manage.

    1st szenario: To guarantee parity between the NHL teams each team needs the right to sign at least one player from each country every season. As consequence you can reduce the number of players leaving one country only to a minimum of 30.

    2nd szenario: The european hockey federations unite and the IIHF-NHL agreement only allows each NHL team to sign two (three) non-north american (european) players per season. All european leagues together only lose 60 (90) players a year, but the parity between the different countries is not given. Countries like Sweden, Russia or the Czech Republic will lose significantly more players than Germany or Switzerland.

    3rd and worst szenario: You set a number of players that can be signed out of one country per season, for example 15 from Sweden. Each NHL team that has the rights to a swedish player will try to sign him as fast as possible. You get a deadline, like July 1st for NHL unrestricted free agency, where everybody tries to sign his players and you lose 15 random players to the NHL, the first 15 who agree to a contract.

  18. #18
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Good points, Rick.

    But the Swedish clubs have not stated explicitly how the number of young Swedes signed should be limited.

    Combined with the concerns made by the Finns and the Czechs, I can imagine two demands:

    1. Abolishment of the two-year signing rule in the CBA.

    2. A significant increase in the compensation for signed players.

    Implementation of the first demand will easen the pressure on the NHL clubs to sign their drafts early on. As things are now, they will lose their rights if a drafted player isn't signed within 2 years after the draft.

    Implementation of the second demand will make it more costly to sign a young European player, while at the same time providing a more fair compensation for the European club's player development cost.

    These provisions will still leave a great deal of flexibility to sign young players which is only fair. Top prospects in the class of Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk and Hossa will thrive whereever they play, and shouldn't be prevented to go to the NHL when they are only 18 or 19.

    Additional efforts to limit the number of signed players must be left to the national federations/regional associations, the clubs, coaches and so on. The more average prospects, who make up more than 95%, of juniors who cross the pond should be taught/informed that signing with an NHL team does not provide a fast-track to the NHL. Somewhat paradoxically, it will more likely make it much more difficult for them to make that dream come true (as they in most cases end up in the minor leagues which will set back their hockey development).
    It's understandable that a 18/19 year doesn't understand this. An information campaign should therefore be launched on all levels. But this won't be enough as long as the NHL clubs are compelled to sign their drafted players early on, and as long as the price for this comes very cheap.

  19. #19
    IHF Staff Trim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    The more average prospects, who make up more than 95%, of juniors who cross the pond should be taught/informed that signing with an NHL team does not provide a fast-track to the NHL. Somewhat paradoxically, it will more likely make it much more difficult for them to make that dream come true (as they in most cases end up in the minor leagues which will set back their hockey development).
    Frans Nielsen being a good example in his difficulty cracking the Islander lineup, despite his ability which would be greatly appreciated in Europe.

    There should be a compensation rate for each level of the draft above a base fee for undrafted players, but I think that also the rate should increase based on years played with a team after being drafted along with additional payment based on individual awards. In this situation, a player like Henrik Lundqvist, the perfect example, would not make much on the draft rate (7th round, 205th overall pick) but thanks to four years in Swedish leagues in Frolunda's system and the awards he picked up there, he would earn the money Frolunda and the Swedish federation deserve to have for his development. Of course, this would all too easily mean NHL teams would bring all their players over to North America immediately to minimise the transfer fees.

    The federations should work together and put the pressure on the NHL for better compensation although it should be based on individual players as elite prospects deserve to be compensated more than an undrafted marginal talent. Strength in numbers is the best way to force the NHL to budge, so there will be interesting to see this situation develop as more federations and clubs unite on the matter.
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  20. #20
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Excellent suggestions, Kazakheagles.

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    I agree with all of the above suggestions, though I've just thought of one point that hasn't been mentioned:
    If European clubs are going to demand transfer money for players who leave to play in the NHL, and the NHL accepts this, what will European clubs (lately, Russian ones) do when the NHL teams demand compensation for players that bolt from their NHL contracts?
    Should this be written into a new agreement as well, and if not, why not?

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    IHF Staff Trim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    If European clubs are going to demand transfer money for players who leave to play in the NHL, and the NHL accepts this, what will European clubs (lately, Russian ones) do when the NHL teams demand compensation for players that bolt from their NHL contracts?
    Should this be written into a new agreement as well, and if not, why not?
    Good question. Here's another thing to think about if this is a club situation as opposed to a federation thing. What about North American players who go to Europe and only then are drafted and signed? I know it is extremely rare, but let's say a college player goes to HV71, plays 2 years and increases his skill set to where Edmonton drafts him. He spends one more season in Jonkoping before the Oilers sign him to a contract. Do the Swedes deserve the compensation and will they get it?
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  23. #23
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    I agree with all of the above suggestions, though I've just thought of one point that hasn't been mentioned:
    If European clubs are going to demand transfer money for players who leave to play in the NHL, and the NHL accepts this, what will European clubs (lately, Russian ones) do when the NHL teams demand compensation for players that bolt from their NHL contracts?
    Should this be written into a new agreement as well, and if not, why not?

    Steigs, the NHL clubs already receive compensation in accordance with the IIHF transfer rules.

    Just to given you a couple of recent examples::

    A few weeks ago, Ak Bars Kazan paid St. Louis Blues $1 mio. to loan Petr Cajanek for the rest of the season.

    Around the same time Ak Bars paid HC Lugano CHF 300,000 (app. $250,000) in a transfer fee for releasing Jukka Hentunen.

    The examples are quite useful in illustrating some of the money issues involved in the feud:

    How can it be that Ak Bars paid 5 times as much for an average NHL player like Petr Cajanek as the NHL paid for instant superstars like Aleksander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin? And why did Ak Bars have to pay 3 times as much for Petr Cajanek as they paid for Jukka Hentunen, a player that is equally good?

    The answer is that transfer fees for Cajanek and Hentunen were open for negotiations while the NHL draft compensation fees are not.

    In Cajanek's case, St. Louis Blues demanded that Ak Bars paid what the Blues would have to pay Cajanek if they had claimed him on re-entry waivers (i.e. half of his annual salary), and the Russians accepted. In Hentunen's case, Lugano accepted Ak Bars' offer of CHF300,000. Around the same time Ak Bars offered Ev Zug CHF150,000 in transfer fee for Oleg Petrov, but Zug declined the offer. Ak Bars then extended a new offer, doubling the transfer fee to CHF300,000 and Zug accepted.

    As for transfers to the NHL, the NHL wouldn't accept the normal IIHF transfer rules that applies to all other leagues in the world. They will not accept individual and open negotiations on the transfer fees. According to the existing NHl-IIHF transfer agreement, the NHL will only pay $9 mio. for the first 45 players signed. That's 200,000 a piece regardless of the player's quality. $9 mio. for 45 players! - that's only 9 times more than the Ak Bars paid for Cajanek. To make matters worse, if a signed player does not become a NHL regular - plays less than 30 games in his first season - then the NHL only has to pay $50-100,000 for the player. In this context it is important to repeat that most signed players do not become NHL regulars.

    In the 2005 negotiations, the NHL bullied the IIHF. Not only did the NHL present its offer as a take-it-or-leave-offer, they also reduced their offer from $12mio in the previous agreement to $9 mio.

    The Russians refused to sign this uneven deal. if they have to pay market based transfer fee to the NHL, its only fair that the NHL also pays market based tranfer fees to Europe.

    And I have to say that I agree with the Russians. To be honest, I believe that the NHL has been acting selffish and narrowminded, and I'm not in one second surprised about the Europeans revolt on the NHL-IIHF agreement. I'm only surprised that it took so long for the Swedes, and now possibly the Finns and the Czechs, to wake up and realize how the NHL is treating the IIHF which is negotiating on their behalf.

    Clearly the IIHF has not been up to its task. For this reason, the Russians have already demanded to negotiate individually with the NHL. Garry Bettman has of course refused this, knowing that the current negotiation system serves the interests of the NHL very well
    Last edited by Karsten; 06-12-2007 at 04:15.

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    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Karsten, I'd suggest to you that the Cajanek deal are the exceptions to the rule of players bolting from their contracts. Kaigorodov was one, Voloshenko, Salmelainen among others... i'm too tired to look up all the ones, but those are broken contracts.

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    Steigs, it is widely known that Russian clubs want to negotiate with NHL on "respect each other contracts" basis.
    But while NHL let itself entice players on contracts, RSL will do the same (with little exception from both side).
    Reciprocity principle, you know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    Combined with the concerns made by the Finns and the Czechs, I can imagine two demands:

    1. Abolishment of the two-year signing rule in the CBA.

    2. A significant increase in the compensation for signed players.
    1. As this rule is part of the CBA, NHL and NHLPA need to agree on a change. The idea of the rule is that a european player should have the same right to become a UFA as a north-american player. Based on these two points you can't completely abolish the rule, you need to change it.

    I would extend the rights to four years or to the age of 23. The NHL teams than only have to decide on 22 to 23 year old players. At this age the teams should be able to make a fair assesment if the players are NHL-caliber or not.

    2. I agree with KazakhEagles on that point. The compensation should be based on the things a player has accomplished with his club. There needs to be a key developed that takes different things into consideration: strength of the league, years at toplevel, games played and points collected.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Deckard View Post
    2. I agree with KazakhEagles on that point. The compensation should be based on the things a player has accomplished with his club. There needs to be a key developed that takes different things into consideration: strength of the league, years at toplevel, games played and points collected.
    I think that a better option would be not to pay compensation right away. They should of course pay a standard fee for the transfer right away, but not according to his talent.
    The real compensation should be payed after x number of games(or seasons - maybe 2?), then they should pay money according to his performance in the NHL.

    I also think that it's easier to get a deal done with the NHL with this solution.

  28. #28
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    As long as American/Canadian courts don't respect contracts in Europe the NHL can do what they want. So why don't make the players pay compensation for their development in their home teams. European teams invest a lot of money to develop players for their elite teams.

    If the European players decide to leave their teams right before they are useful for them they should pay compensation for their development. If they stay there for some time (e.g. 5 years) as professional they can go wherever they want without any or reduced development compensations. This way only the highly talented players leave as they can afford to pay the compensation.

  29. #29
    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Deckard View Post
    1. As this rule is part of the CBA, NHL and NHLPA need to agree on a change. The idea of the rule is that a european player should have the same right to become a UFA as a north-american player. Based on these two points you can't completely abolish the rule, you need to change it. .
    Rick, the real problem is that the NHL and NHLPA negotiates on issues which have deep extraterritorial implications.

    From an international point of view, what gives the NHL the right to draft European players under contract and subsequently claim that the players are their property even though they are still under contract with a European club? What gives the NHL and NHLPA the right to agree on a two year signing rule for European players (and NA's as well) who are still under contract?

    Both things violate the norms that govern international sports law, and, indeed, they are a clear violation of the IIHF's transfer rules §11.3 (see above). The only way the NHL can get away with it is that the league is not regulated by any national federation.

    If the European countries say no to the two year signing rule, then it needs to be abolished in order to get a new NHL-IIHF agreement. How the NHL and NHLPA will solve this is an internal league matter.

    In any case: those days where the NHL/NHLPA could completely neglect the implications of the CBA for the European leagues are numbered. The European countries's rejection of an extension of the NHL-IIHF agreement is only the first sign of this.

    Next year, the Russian Superleague will likely be independent of the Russian federation - and this means that the IIHF can no longer negotiate on Russia's behalf. The NHL will have to deal with the RSL directly, just as the RSL want. In Sweden there are also talks about making Elitserien independent of the Swedish federation.

  30. #30
    IHF Member Tobias's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    Next year, the Russian Superleague will likely be independent of the Russian federation - and this means that the IIHF can no longer negotiate on Russia's behalf. The NHL will have to deal with the RSL directly, just as the RSL want. In Sweden there are also talks about making Elitserien independent of the Swedish federation.
    Does this mean that they will be privately funded and run? If so i think it's a very interesting development. But what are the benefits from this besides what you just mention?

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    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Karsten, the idea of hte two-year rule is not supposed to be that players are the property of the teams, it's that the team in question has the right of negotiation WRT NHL CLUBS with the player in question. It's basically to avoid situations like the old days where the Monteal Canadiens could sign every really good prospect out there and just stash them in the minors to assure domination.
    Without the draft and the subsequent two-year rule, you'd see the Leafs, Rangers, etc trying to sign every young kid with any kind of potential, and that would just be bad for the sport in North America. Keep in mind that out here, NHL clubs don't have junior systems to develop their own talent like in Europe.
    However, I do agree that it should not give NHL clubs the right to dsregard European contracts (unless the European player specifically has an NHL escape clause built into his contract that allows him to negotiate with an NHL club and leave before a certain date, in which case the situation becomes kosher). Unfortunately the courts on this side of the ocean do seem to be remiss in supportingthe NHL's behaviour...

  32. #32
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    The entry draft is literally the only way for NHL teams to obtain new talent from outside of the NHL (whether North America, Europe or elsewhere) other than free agency. As Steigs points out, NHL clubs do not have club-owned junior systems to develop their own talent from a young age. Accordingly, the entry draft is crucial for the NHL clubs' survival and the survival of the NHL itself, and to think that the NHL will not draft a player involved with a non-NHL club is simply unrealistic.

    The NHL draft is just that - a draft. The fact that an NHL team drafts a player does not mean that the player who is drafted is free to break an existing contract he has with a European club. It does not mean that he has to come to the NHL, or even has any interest in coming to the NHL.

    What it does mean is that, with respect to the possibility of that player coming to the NHL at all, the NHL club which drafted him has exclusive rights to try to sign him, within a specified time period, to the exclusion of any other NHL team. It is an NHL-specific scenario, and has nothing to do with anything outside of the NHL.

    The issue of the sanctity or non-sanctity of contracts that the player may already be involved in is a very important, but separate, issue.

    For example, the battles between NHL and European clubs over contracts involving players not developed by the European club in question through their junior system, but rather simply signed to a contract by that club, are simply breach of contract matters to be decided as any other breach of contract matters.

    One more interesting aspect of the issue, at least to me, is the very nature of the relationship between a European player and the club that developed him in its junior system. How long is the player tied to the club's senior team after emerging from its junior program? Why shouldn't the player have a right to pay a specified amount of compensation to the club that developed him if he wishes to leave and play somewhere else, rather than ever playing for the senior team that developed him (let's call it an "opt-out")? I can see a club balking at a player it developed opting out to play for a rival in the same league, and I can see that developing club maintaining his rights as to the league the developing club plays in for "x" number of years should he decide to come back, but a player should be allowed to play in a different country/league if he chooses to. Players are not feudal serfs.

    NHL draftees can (and sometimes do) refuse to play for the team that drafted them. What happens is that the drafted player is barred from playing for any other NHL team for a specified time, after which the player again becomes draft eligible. Or, a player may be drafted, refuse to play for the team that drafted him, and demand a trade - and hold out until he gets his wish. The point is that the NHL draftees have a choice, limited as it may be. And so should European players.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butcher View Post
    I think that a better option would be not to pay compensation right away. They should of course pay a standard fee for the transfer right away, but not according to his talent.
    The real compensation should be payed after x number of games(or seasons - maybe 2?), then they should pay money according to his performance in the NHL.
    The purpose of increasing the fee is to prevent NHL teams from signing young players that aren't NHL ready. I don't think your proposal works here.

    For example Lars Jonsson. He was signed by the Philadelphia Flyers as an NHL UFA in 2006 from HV71. Since joining the Flyers he has only played eight NHL games and was the other time either injured or with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL. Under your proposal HV71 would only get paid the standard fee and a very little amount for the eight NHL games. Under my proposal the NHL has to pay for five seasons at toplevel (Elitserien).

    On the other hand your proposal works better for the starplayers like Ovechkin, Malkin or Backstrom. As the european teams get a better financial compensation for the loss of their developed stars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    From an international point of view, what gives the NHL the right to draft European players under contract and subsequently claim that the players are their property even though they are still under contract with a European club?
    If the NHL drafts a european player they do not claim that he is their property. The draft of a player only says that if the player wants to play in the NHL, he has to play for the team that drafted him, nothing else. The NHL team that drafted him is the only team in the NHL that has the right to negotiate a contract with him, if he wants to play there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    What gives the NHL and NHLPA the right to agree on a two year signing rule for European players (and NA's as well) who are still under contract?
    The rule just says that the NHL team has to sign the player within two years to retain his rights, otherwise the player can re-enter the draft (until a certain age) or becomes a unrestricted free agent (in regard to the NHL).

    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    If the European countries say no to the two year signing rule, then it needs to be abolished in order to get a new NHL-IIHF agreement. How the NHL and NHLPA will solve this is an internal league matter.
    Thats the point I made previously. The NHL and the NHLPA need to change that rule, at least for european players, to prevent NHL teams from signing european players who are too young, too inexperienced or simply not good enough to make the NHL. The NHL signs these players to retain their rights, if they don't need to sign them to keep them, they won't sign them.

    On the other hand the NHLPA won't agree to a rule that ties a player to one special NHL team for his whole NHL career. For that reason you need a deadline there a player has to be signed by the NHL team that hold his rights or becomes a UFA (in regard to the NHL). At the previous post i suggested four years after the draft or at age 23.

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