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Friday, April 30, 2010
Hudler to return to Red Wings

Associated Press

DETROIT -- Jiri Hudler is coming back to play for the Detroit Red Wings.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland confirmed Friday night that Hudler has been granted his release from Dynamo Moscow.

"Jiri's agent [Petr Svoboda] called last month and asked if we would be interested in him if he could get released, and I said we would be," Holland said in a telephone interview from San Jose, Calif., where Detroit trails the Sharks 1-0 in the second-round playoff series. "We're excited about getting a player who we know that is coming into the prime of his career."

Messages seeking comment were left with Hudler and Svoboda.

The 26-year-old Czech forward was caught in the middle of one of the many disputes between the NHL and the KHL, Russia's top hockey league.

Hudler agreed to go through salary arbitration with the Red Wings after turning down their five-year, $15 million last summer. He then signed a two-year, $10 million contract with Dynamo.

Hudler will play for the Red Wings on a two-year contract worth $5.75 million, a deal awarded to him by an arbitrator. He had 99 points his last two seasons, helping Detroit win the Stanley Cup in 2008 and reach Game 7 of the finals last year.

"He's a very gifted player," Holland said. "He has great sense for the game and great hands, and we'll look forward to him playing for us next season."

To play in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League last season, the International Ice Hockey Federation approved Hudler's disputed transfer. The IIHF must authorize international transfers and requires documents signed by the player and the two national federations -- USA Hockey and Russia's IHFR -- representing the clubs.

It ruled that USA Hockey, which refused to sign off on Hudler's transfer, didn't submit its appeal brief and evidence within the formal deadlines.

The governing body has been caught between the two leagues since the Russian federation opted out of an international transfer agreement several years ago. The dispute escalated when Kremlin-backed KHL teams began targeting players under contract with NHL franchises. Most notably, Nashville Predators forward Alex Radulov signed a three-year deal to play in the KHL in July 2008 despite having a year left on his NHL contract.