Fasel addresses international hockey issues

February, 18, 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel held a joint news conference here Thursday, although there was nothing new on the 2014 front.

Bettman reiterated that the league and NHL Players' Association will have to have that discussion during the next round of labor talks. Scott Burnside has an excellent column on the NHL and Olympic participation.

Two points of interest, however, also caught my attention Thursday:

1. I asked Fasel how much of a personal failure on his part it was that the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, the NHL and the NHLPA still haven't ironed out their issues regarding a player transfer agreement, which remains nonexistent. Fasel conceded frustration in the matter but promised he eventually will bring the sides together and find a resolution to the long-standing dispute between them. It was a strong statement, and I credit Fasel for that. But I'm not confident Russia and the NHL will ever see eye to eye.

2. I asked Fasel why Alexander Radulov was allowed to play in the Olympic tournament. Last time I checked, any player who is in breach of a valid contract (Radulov, who bolted to the KHL two years ago, still owes Nashville a season) should be suspended from international play. Fasel told me the IIHF feared some sort of legal action if it had attempted to block his participation here. I call bull crap on that. To me, it's just an example of the IIHF allowing itself to yet again be bullied by the Russians.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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