by PuckStopsHere on 05/12/09 at 02:12 AM ET
The International Ice Hockey Federation announced what appear to be tough new rules to deal with players who are under contract in one league and jump to another league. They have announced the played would be banned from playing for four to six months, the player would be banned from international competition for one to three years and the offending club would be banned from the transfer market for three to 24 months. These rules do not come into place for over a year (June 1st, 2010) which is after the 2010 Olympics.
That means that these rules will not be in effect this summer - meaning there may be disputed player transfers this summer as there were last summer. These rules also seem unenforceable. The IIHF was unable to do anything when Alexander Radulov jumped from the Nashville Predators of the NHL to Ufa Salavat Yulayev in the KHL. They were unable to prevent him from playing. Why do they think they can prevent players like him starting in 2010?
If they cannot actually prevent players from playing, they cannot keep teams out of the transfer market either. A team that is not allowed by the IIHF to have any player transfers can sign an international player and have him play for them and nothing can be done about it at all.
The only part of these rules that might have teeth is keeping a player out of international tournaments. This might not prevent any players from jumping contracts, but it is the only leverage that the IIHF actually has. It is leverage that they have not used in the past. Alexander Radulov was a part of the Russian team that just won the World Hockey Championships.
One potential problem with this ruling is that last summer the Russians challenged every player that left their leagues for North America as contract jumpers. There is no reason to believe that this practise won’t end. That could lead to players facing sanctions or drawn into long legal battles, when they did not actually jump contract.
The best hope for the IIHF is that they never have to enforce these rules. If, for example, the current economic trouble leads to Russia and the other European nations accepting a new transfer agreement, these rules will be outdated before the date they are supposed to begin.
The IIHF has little real power internationally. What little power they have comes as a governing body in international hockey tournaments. This announcement of new rules for players who “illegally” jump contract is clearly unenforceable. It is an announcement to sound tough that is pushed far enough to the future that it may never come into place. It does nothing to change things this summer at all. Even when these rules are in place, I doubt it changes things much.
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