Cult of Hockey: IIHF Screws Wings, Hudler

Update (27. Aug 09, 3:25 PM): A guy by the name of Ruslan Salikhov claims on Twitter that KHL president Alexander Medvedev said his league will ignore the IIHF and let Hudler play regardless. Salikhov also has what he calls a quote from KHL officials: “IIHF did not give transfer card to Hudler. Their explanation was Hudler has a contract with Detroit, which is laughable” (via Christy Hammond).

None of this has been confirmed by a reputable source yet, so take both the initial news and this bit from Medvedev with  grain of salt. – Matt

David Staples of the Edmonton Journal blog Cult of Hockey relays horrible news from his “Edmonton-based Euro hockey expert” Peter Adler (who in turn gets it from Sovietsky Sport): the IIHF isn’t granting Hudler his transfer card, which means he can’t practice or play with Moscow Dynamo, or for any other team in any “IIHF-sanctioned game.”

I haven’t seen this confirmed by anyone else yet, so take it with a grain of salt. But I’m guessing Sovietsky Sport wouldn’t outright fabricate something that represents such a blow to the KHL as this. It may be that the IIHF is just dragging its feet. Let’s hope so.

Without that card, Hudler would effectively be banned from any league covered by the IIHF. If the report is true, Hudler’s only real option would be to return to North America, which is outside IIHF jurisdiction (or at least able to ignore it).

The problem with that, obviously, is Hudler is currently property of the Detroit Red Wings and to play in North America, he would have to pick up the two-year, $5.75 million deal with the Wings he was awarded in arbitration. And the Wings neither have that kind of cap space nor could they easily get it now that they have signed Jason Williams and Todd Bertuzzi.

So, if Hudler is forced to return, what do the Wings do? Who knows. I can tell you I have a hard time seeing them trade or waive a veteran such as Tomas Holmstrom in order to help make room for Jiri. What seems more likely to me is they’d try to shop Hudler, even though he’s an important offensive asset. If that’s the route they go, though, good luck. NHL GMs won’t be in a rush to help Holland out.

Kyle’s got some speculation of his own here.

Assuming for a minute that the Sovietsky Sport story as relayed by Adler is true, a question for the IIHF: why the heck did you wait so long? The NHL wanted this weeks ago.