Sometimes playing the rumor game in the NHL can get interesting when parties attached to the situation are on different continents. Making things a bit less interesting is that the rumors this time have to deal with bureaucratic dealings and contracts between the NHL and KHL. Earlier today, USA Today’s Kevin Allen tweeted that the NHL and KHL had reached an agreement to respect each others contracts with players.
As it is, the NHL and KHL don’t have a transfer agreement worked out with each other, so bridging this gap would be a step in the right direction to provide detente between the competing leagues. As stories like this tend to go, not all is as it initially appeared. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman cleared things up saying that it is business as usual between the two leagues and there was nothing to announce.
“There’s no agreement,” Bettman told The Canadian Press in an interview. “(Deputy commissioner) Bill Daly confirmed in writing what our practice has been — namely, we respect their contracts and we expect them to respect ours.
“There’s no transfer agreement so we don’t have the same relationship with the KHL that we have with the Swedes or the Finns or the Czechs.”
While the NHL and KHL don’t have the same sort of working agreement together, it’s not at the “Cold War” level of problems the way it once seemed to be. After all, with the Carolina Hurricanes playing against SKA St. Petersburg in an exhibition game today, there’s signs that things are improving. They’re not improved enough to get Gary Bettman and KHL president Alexander Medvedev at the negotiation table, but any improvement is better than what we’ve seen in recent years between the two sides.
Sure the NHL is ticked about losing handfuls of players to the Russian league, but with how the job market in the NHL has been this year, you can understand why the KHL comes as a helpful option for some players that want to remain in professional hockey. If you’re thinking the KHL has a strong position against the NHL, think again. The money in the NHL is better and every team has stability behind it. The same can’t be said of all the teams in the KHL.