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New Russian hockey league accuses NHL of poaching

The Canadian Press

9/4/2008 6:01:09 PM

A newly formed Russian hockey league accused the NHL of poaching two of its players when the Los Angeles Kings agreed to terms with two draft prospects last week.

As a result, the Continental Hockey League (KHL), announced Thursday that it was no longer obligated to abide by a moratorium reached in July, when the leagues agreed against signing players that were under contract.

In a news release, the KHL said the NHL violated that agreement when the Kings signed 2008 second-round draft pick, defenceman Vjateslav Voinov, and 2008 fifth-round pick, centre Andrei Loktionov, on Aug. 27. The KHL said Voinov is currently under contract with Chelyabinsk while Loktionov is under contract with Yaroslavl.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly disputed the KHL's claims in an e-mail sent to The Associated Press. Daly said the league approved both contracts "on the basis of evidence that the two players were free of contractual obligations elsewhere.

"The NHL is not in violation of any agreement with the KHL, nor are we in violation of our long-standing policy to respect the contracts of other leagues."

This is the latest dispute to arise between the leagues since the KHL, which is scheduled to begin play this month, was formed last spring to succeed the former Russian Super League.

The Predators suspended forward Alexander Radulov without pay after he broke his contract with Nashville to sign with a KHL team. Radulov, the Predators third-leading scorer last season, had one year left on his contract.

KHL president Alexander Medvedev has maintained that Radulov's signing was legal because it occurred before the two leagues reached a signing moratorium.

Medvedev is scheduled to meet Saturday with International Ice Hockey Federation officials, including president Rene Fasel, in Zurich to discuss his league's dispute with the NHL.

Daly said the NHL is not involved in those meetings.

Daly still doesn't consider the KHL a major concern, which is how he referred to the upstart league at the NHL draft in June.

"Of course we're disappointed with some of the things hat have happened since the entry draft but, no, I don't think I would change my answer today, that we don't consider the KHL to be a major concern," Daly said.