Puck Daddy - NHL

Paul Kelly, executive director of the NHL Players Association, continues to make the media rounds this summer. The Hockey News has an interview with Kelly in an upcoming issue, and writer Adam Proteau has a snippet on the Web in which Kelly expresses optimism that a new player transfer agreement will be ratified between the NHL and Europe -- just not necessarily with Russia:

"The Russians have not been part of it for a number of years, and at this point, my sense is that they probably will recluse themselves from any transfer agreement that might be signed in the near term."

Later, he speaks about the need for a new agreement:

"I think for the long-term interest of the game, we want to have the best players in the world playing in our league. And a fair transfer agreement would facilitate getting those players to come over to North America and play. As long as the transfer agreement makes sense economically for the NHL, and also makes sense for the individual federations - that it doesn't terribly deplete their local and national teams, that it doesn't damage hockey globally - it will work."

That's fair ... save for the part where he says "we want to have the best players in the world playing in our league." Sorry, I don't buy that line from the NHLPA any more. It's more like, "we want to have the wealthiest hockey players in the world playing wherever they'll get paid."

Kelly has predicted "an icy relationship" between the NHL and the KHL if Alexander Radulov ends up playing in Russia rather than with the Nashville Predators; what I haven't seen is Kelly condemning this clear violation of Radulov's contract. Or warning against star players leaving the NHL for KHL contracts that eclipse what North American teams can pay under the cap. (Hey, if it's good enough for the NBA.)

What we do get is Kelly praising the emergence of the KHL as a source of new jobs:

{ysp:block}"We think the emergence of the KHL is positive, because it gives guys such as Ray Emery and Chris Simon another chance to play. Do I think it will mean NHL players rush to Siberia? No."{/syp:block}

But this isn't about Ray Emery; it's about a future Russian star getting an enormous offer from the KHL as a free agent, and then using that to bargain in the NHL. The PA should drop the "NHL" prefix, because it clearly wouldn't mind the League's salary structure blowing up after getting injected with Russian millions, like steroids into a Hall of Fame pitcher's rump roast.

The PA can't stop those offers from rolling in, but it could take a stand against players leaving to help defuse them.

Kelly and his PA should be focused on one singular aim: Working with the NHL to make the NHL as strong as it possibly can be, locally and globally.

A public stance against his membership leaving the NHL for Europe -- unless you are Chris Simon and that is your only alternative -- would be a nice start.

"Damaging hockey globally?" "Depleting national teams?" We're sure Predators fans are very concerned about the relative health of the Kazakhstan national squad, pending this transfer agreement.

Maybe Kelly can give us some sort of lip-service about the NHL being the first priority. You know, before the players rip open the CBA and lead us into another work stoppage.

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