New York Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky will remain with Slovan Bratislava for the remainder of the season, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday.
“I have decided to stay and continue my career in the KHL for the remainder of the 2012-13 season,” Visnovsky said in a statement. “I am thankful to the Isles for being so good to me. My decision not to play in the NHL is due to family and personal reasons.
“I have made no decisions on next season. My focus now is on Slovan Bratislava, and enjoying my family in my home country.”
Update: Bill Daly didn’t give the deal the NHL’s go-ahead in an e-mail to Staple.
“We have an agreement with the KHL that would preclude Mr. Visnovsky from continuing to play in the KHL once the lockout is officially lifted,” Daly wrote. ” I assume that agreement will be respected.”
Meanwhile, the Islanders declined to comment.
How this happened
Visnovsky, traded from Anaheim to New York at June’s NHL Entry Draft, filed a grievance with the league shortly after learning of the deal, claiming his no-trade clause was still in effect.
Visnovsky, while somehow saying that he’d play for the Islanders if the trade went through, maintained that he had a valid no-trade clause that he didn’t invoke when the Ducks acquired him from the Edmonton Oilers in 2010. The arbitrator felt differently.
The issue dates back to 2007 when Visnovsky inked a 5-year extension with the Los Angeles Kings, a contract that included a NTC. He was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in June 2008, one day before the new contract and no-trade clause were set to kick in. At the 2010 trade deadline, Visnovsky was on the move back to California, this time going to the Ducks.
An arbitrator upheld the trade on Sept. 12.
Five days later, Visnovsky signed with Bratislava.
Despite all this, Visnovsky and his agent, Neil Sheehy, have made several public statements claiming they had no problems with the Islanders organization.
Sheehy re-iterated that to Staple on Monday, saying Visnovsky’s situation “would have been the same with any NHL team.”
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out on a variety of fronts.
The NHL already said its part about the KHL honoring contracts — Visnovsky has one year remaining on his deal — but the other factor will be how the Isles handle the situation.
It could end up being a Tim Thomas/Bruins-like scenario, in which the Bruins hold the option of suspending Thomas without pay, but still absorbing his $5 million cap hit.
Visnovsky’s cap hit for this season is $5.6 million, but he’s only owed $3 million in salary.