Lubomir Visnovsky, reluctant Islander, announces he will stay in Slovakia; NHL disagrees

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  • Lubomir Visnovsky
    Lubomir Visnovsky

Back in June, Lubomir Visnovsky got some bad news: he had been traded to the New York Islanders. Then, three days before the NHL lockout on September 12th, he got even more bad news: his attempt to block the trade, by claiming the no-trade clause he waived in 2010 to move from Edmonton to Anaheim was still valid, had been denied. The trade was upheld.

Before Visnovsky could hatch another way to fight the deal (such as running into a cathedral and shouting "Sanctuary!", perhaps), the NHL locked the players out, and the matter was shelved. A locked-out Visnovsky went to Slovakia to play in the KHL.

Now the lockout is over, and the players have been called back. Except Visnovsky refuses to leave. From Newsday:

Visnovsky, 36, issued a statement to Newsday through agent Neil Sheehy: "I have decided to stay and continue my career in the KHL for the remainder of the 2012-13 season. I am thankful to the New York Islanders 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 HC Slovan Bratislava, and enjoying my family in my home country."

Again, just so we're clear on the line Visnovsky is trying to sell us here: this decision is due to family and personal reasons, and has nothing whatsoever so do with the fact that I fought tooth and nail to void a trade to the New York Islanders because I really, really don't want to play there. In fact, thanks, Islanders, for being swell.

It's believable, is what it is.

Unfortunately for Visnovsky, it doesn't appear that this latest transparent attempt to be anywhere but Long Island is going to work, because the NHL's agreement with the KHL prohibits locked-out players from staying behind once the lockout is over.

"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," Bill Daly told Newsday. "I assume that agreement will be respected."

Visnovsky, obviously, is banking on the opposite.

The Islanders really can't afford to be without Visnovsky, especially in a 48-game season where there isn't time to hope a young player finds his legs or that a team gels late in the season. The veteran defender was acquired to shore up a thin Islanders blueline right away, and it would appear he'll have to do that whether he likes it or not.

Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney