Alex Ovechkin has spent the last two months playing for KHL club Dynamo Moscow.
Now it appears Dynamo isn’t ready to let him go.
According to reports from Russia’s R-Sport, team president Arkady Rotenberg is prepared to try and retain Ovechkin’s services once the work stoppage is settled.
“Is there the desire to retain Alexander Ovechkin at Dynamo after the NHL lockout? Dynamo has such thoughts,” Rotenberg explained. “I heard that there are those thoughts too at the Army Sports Club in St. Petersburg.
“So we are looking in that direction, we’ll see whether it’ll work out.”
The “Army Sports Club” line is in reference to Ilya Kovalchuk, currently plying his trade with SKA St. Petersburg.
It seems SKA is equally interested in retaining Kolvalchuk’s services — since joining, the Devils sniper has racked up 26 points in 16 games.
Oh yeah, he’s also served as team captain.
With CBA talks heating up, many European clubs are bracing for the potential departure of their locked-out NHL stars — so it’s not surprising KHL clubs are already exploring the option of retaining players.
On that note, here’s what PHT’s legal analyst Eric Macramalla had to say in his most recent Ask a Lawyer piece, “Could Ovechkin and/or Kovalchuk legally get out of their NHL contracts?”
An NHL contract, which is called a “Standard Player Contract” or an “SPC”, provides at Section 14(b) that a team has the right to terminate a contract if that player shall “fail, refuse or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any other manner materially breach this Contract”.
Not rendering services would include not showing up for work. So while Ovechkin and/or Kovalchuk wouldn’t be in a position to challenge the validity of their contracts, they could elect not to return to the NHL, thereby setting in motion a series of events that would end with their clubs terminating their contracts.
Before termination, that same SPC at Section 4 says that a team can suspend a player without pay for not discharging the obligations under his contract. Again, that would include not playing for the team.
Their teams could also look to sue for breach of contract, which would entitle them to an award of monetary damages. They wouldn’t, however, be able to sue to force the players to come back and play.
Macramalla also notes the understanding between the KHL and NHL to honor each others’ contracts would come into play. There would be pressure on the KHL to not allow either to play, but it would be just that — pressure.