Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Tretiak: "Bettman won't let one Russian go"

Vadislav Tretiak

Yesterday, Sport Express printed an interview with Vadilsav Tretiak, President of the Russian Hockey Federation, upon his return to Moscow after meeting with Gary Bettman in New York.

Earlier today, Russian Hockey Digest posted a translation, which saved me the trouble (though I did touch it up a bit).

Tretiak's comments:

"I met with the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman; he received me very well during my stay, but he also emphasized that the NHL doesn’t make a practice of meeting representatives of other National Federations. Bettman said that they made an exception for Russia because Russia is not just a country, but a sports empire with long-term hockey traditions, to which they in North America regard with great admiration and respect.

"Among the topics discussed there was a discussion of a collaboration between the National Teams as well as the clubs, to revive the series such as the one between Russia and Team Canada. From Bettman’s point of view, these days it is hard to organize the games between the National Teams, but he proposed to organize a joint training camp of several teams from both leagues, Russian and American, so that teams could play against each other.

"Besides, the main discussion was about the agreement that NHL signed with IIHF, and IIHF signed with European Hockey Federations. As is well known, Russia didn’t sign this agreement. The main point of the agreement is that the NHL pays a certain amount of money for each player, and the amount is always the same, regardless of the situation of the player involved. Of course, we disagreed with this, which is why former president Steblin refused to sign the agreement. We are trying to defend our position: if NHL wants to sign players who have active contracts in Russia, they have to deal directly with clubs of these players. NHL defends the point that the agreement is already signed with the IIHF, which means that any other questions are not of their concern.

"Bettman unequivocally stated that if Russia does not sign the agreement, not one Russian player in the NHL would be allowed to go to the 2007 World Championships, which are to be played in Moscow.

"Ovechkin was allowed to go to the 2006 World Championship in Riga, which Bettman reminded me about it right away, and told me that this occurred only because of personal respect to me. He repeated twice that such exceptions will no longer take place."