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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NHL Russians Could Be Blocked From '07 Worlds

RIGA, Latvia -- NHL Russian players could be prevented from competing in next year's world championship in Moscow if a new transfer agreement is not in place, the head of the International Ice Hockey Federation said on Saturday.

"There is a danger that if we do not find an agreement with [NHL commissioner] Gary Bettman, Russian players will not be allowed to play in Russia next year," said IIHF president Rene Fasel. "But I am thinking positive and we will find a way."

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the NHL and NHL Players Association can prevent a player from taking part in the world championship without a transfer agreement in place.

The talent-rich Russian Federation is the only member of the IIHF not to sign up to the transfer agreement which compensates European clubs for players who leave to play in the NHL.

Russian clubs, who have produced some of the NHL's top players, want to negotiate their own deal with the NHL.

Washington Capitals rookie sensation Alexander Ovechkin, the top pick in the 2004 NHL draft, was cleared to play in this year's championship in Latvia only after Fasel secured assurances from Bettman and NHLPA president Ted Saskin that they would not stand in the way.

"We want to live on good terms with the NHL," Fasel told reporters.

Fasel hopes the recent appointment of goaltending great Vladislav Tretiak as president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation will help smooth what have been prickly negotiations.

The IIHF also announced major changes to the world championship format following its congress.

Starting with next year's championship in Russia, a draw will no longer be used to determine the tournament groups.

Instead, the IIHF ranking system will be the sole criterion for determining groups with the seedings for the 2007 championship, to be announced immediately after Sunday's gold medal game.