Transfer deal still might get ratified on Tuesday

MOSCOW -- The NHL and International Ice
Hockey Federation (IIHF) agreed in principle to a new transfer
agreement on Saturday before a hesitant Russia again prevented a
quick ratification.

The Russian Federation, which refused to sign the existing
two-year accord that expires at the end of the NHL season, had
appeared set to end its holdout and join the other top European
nations in a new agreement.

But, with Russia Federation president and Hall of Fame
goaltender Vladislav Tretiak absent from Saturday's meeting, no
deal was signed.

The NHL, IIHF, NHL Players Association and the leading seven
European hockey nations now have until Tuesday to ratify the

"I think we have an agreement in principle," NHL deputy
commissioner Bill Daly told reporters at the end of three hours
of meetings.

"Everybody knows Russian participation was an issue in our
last agreement and we're hopeful the Russians will see fit to
participate in this agreement.

"I think we've agreed on the form of the agreement and now
it's up to the parties to ratify that."

The proposed agreement would run for four years and,
according to media reports, the 30 NHL clubs would contribute
between $10-12 million annually to a transfer pool administered
by the IIHF.

Details of the proposal were not released but European clubs
are expected to receive $200,000 for every player signed by an
NHL team.

The agreement also includes a deadline where NHL clubs can
sign players during the off-season.

"They [Russia Federation] will have a meeting and they will
give us an answer on May 8," said IIHF president Rene Fasel. "We
have set a deadline of midnight.

"They [the Russians] know exactly what is going on, we have
been discussing for many months the proposal and they know
exactly the numbers and figures and conditions and just have to
say yes or no."

The Russian Federation has balked at signing agreements at
the 11th hour in the past.

The IIHF believed it was close to getting the Russians on
board at last year's world championship in Riga.

But the IIHF was rebuffed by Russian club owners who
demanded millions of dollars in compensation for losing top
players such as Washington Capitals duo Alexander Ovechkin and
Alexander Semin and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The lack of an agreement has resulted in several court cases
on both sides of the Atlantic.

Russian teams launched law suits in U.S. courts in an
attempt to block Ovechkin, Semin and Malkin playing in the NHL.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nikolai Zherdev's case went to
the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland after his
former clu,b CSKA Moscow, argued he was still obligated to perform
military service.

All four cases ended in favor of the player and the NHL,
leaving the Russian clubs with no compensation.