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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Rejects NHL Deal

Russia has refused to sign a new player transfer agreement with the NHL, opening the door to years of legal disputes and chaos.

Russian Hockey Federation president and Hall of Fame goalie Vladislav Tretiak told a news conference Wednesday that the country's elite clubs had "almost unanimously" rejected the pact, demanding the NHL respect players under contract to Russian clubs.

Tretiak said money was not the main stumbling block but called the NHL's offer of $200,000 for developing players nothing more than a "handout" while putting a price tag of $1 million on top young talent such as Washington Capitals's Alexander Ovechkin and Pittsburgh Penguins's Evgeni Malkin.

Russia, which had also refused to sign the current two-year agreement that expires next month, remains the only major hockey power not to approve the new deal, brokered by the International Ice Hockey Federation and the National Hockey League on Saturday.

"A lot of players would like to play in the NHL and we do not prohibit them under the condition they respect our internal contracts in Russia," Tretiak said. "If a player has finished his contract and he is free, let him do what he wants.

"If a player is under contract, it is possible to buy out his contract from the club and our clubs believe $200,000 for players like Ovechkin and Malkin is not enough and because of that we are not signing this agreement."

Last week top officials, representing the NHL, the IIHF and Europe's seven major hockey nations met in Moscow to discuss the final details of a new pact that would pay European clubs $200,000 for every player signed by an NHL team.

IIHF president Rene Fasel said he still expected all other parties to ratify the agreement and would push ahead without the Russian federation's participation.

Russia's refusal to get on board is sure to escalate tensions among the Russian federation, NHL and the IIHF.

Without an agreement the NHL could try to block Russian players under contract to league teams from competing in international competitions, including the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and future World Championships.

"There are human rights and after an NHL team is out of playoffs the player is free of his obligation and can do what he wants," offered a defiant Tretiak. "[Ilya] Kovalchuk [of the Atlanta Thrashers] has said if someone is threatening me I will come anyway."

The lack of an agreement has already resulted in several court cases on both sides of the Atlantic and is sure to spark more.

Russian teams brought lawsuits in U.S. courts in an unsuccessful attempt to block Malkin, Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals teammate Alexander Semin from playing in the NHL.