After midnight came and went, hockey’s biggest league is now out of order and NHL stars are free to sign contracts withh Russia’s KHL. Free from their contractual obligations as of now, players can sign with teams overseas (though some leagues, such as Swedish Elitserien (SEL), don’t allow temporary contracts).
Earlier, the KHL announced requirements for players signing temp deals. A single team can sign no more than three players and only one of them can be non-Russian (though teams are not obligated to dress more than five foreigners to games). They don’t count against the salary cap, but they can’t be signed to contracts worth more than the 65% of their NHL deals’ annual value.
Foreign KHL players must meet one of the following criteria:
Play in more than 150 NHL games in the previous three seasons;
Have KHL experience;
Be a Stanley Cup winner or finalist;
Be a winner of one of the NHL’s annual awards;
Play for their national teams on the 2010 Olympics, one of the last two World Champs or one of the last two World Junior Champs.
These rules don’t apply to the KHL teams representing countries outside Russia.
Below the jump, we give you the blow-by-blow of the KHL’s version of a free-agent frenzy.
There’s going to be a lot of shortsighted posts from angry bloggers over the next few weeks about how greedy NHL players and owners are. How this lockout is going to forever hurt the game. How fans will never come back like they used to.
As much as I want to be able to write that post, I can’t. It might take some time, but the game will come back stronger than ever and the fans will come back too.
I love this sport with all my heart, but my life will go on without hockey. Yours should too.