Saturday, January 9, 2010
Roster moves must be approved by IIHF
By Pierre LeBrun
There appears to be a resolution to the Olympic hockey roster dispute.
The International Ice Hockey Federation sent out a memo Friday to all national member federations clarifying that, at this point, roster changes can only be made for "valid reasons," and not because of player performance, ESPN.com has learned.
"For further clarification and as in the past three Olympic Games tournaments, it is only possible to change the players on the provisional rosters in the event of injuries or exceptional and valid reasons," the memo stated. "An application is to be made to the IIHF informing of the change and the reasons. Should the reasons provided be deemed valid then the IIHF will accept the change."
The NHL and NHL Players' Association sent a letter to the IIHF on Dec. 29, underlining their expressed concern with Russia's stated intention to potentially change its Olympic hockey roster regardless of injury.
The NHL and the players' union reiterated in the letter to the IIHF that according to the agreement reached by all parties, Jan. 1 was the deadline for provisional rosters for the Olympics and any changes could only be made for bonafide injuries or other valid reasons.
Russian coach Slava Bykov raised eyebrows around the hockey community on Christmas Day when he suggested that his announced roster was a provisional list and he could change players based on performance right up to the eve of the Olympics.
"I wouldn't guarantee a place on the Olympic team to anyone," Bykov was quoted as saying. "If my players can't perform up to the standards playing for their respective clubs, then how can I rely on them in Vancouver?"
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.