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Old 08-22-2006, 08:59 AM   #41
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

I'm curious to see what this does between Russian and North American relations when dealing with player transactions.

It seems to me that Russia is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they don't sign the TA in the future then they will have to worry about "Malkin situations" every year. If they do sign the agreement it's not going to be for the millions and millions of dollars that they were pushing for when the TA talks started.

On top of the Malkin situation, this should be interesting to watch pan out.
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Old 08-23-2006, 10:18 AM   #42
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

Quote:
Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43
I'm curious to see what this does between Russian and North American relations when dealing with player transactions.

It seems to me that Russia is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they don't sign the TA in the future then they will have to worry about "Malkin situations" every year. If they do sign the agreement it's not going to be for the millions and millions of dollars that they were pushing for when the TA talks started.

On top of the Malkin situation, this should be interesting to watch pan out.
My guess is that eventually they will sign the TA - they will figure that getting something in return is better than losing their players for nothing. If they don't, then I see the players over there signing short-term deals (1 or 2 years) with the option to leave to play in the NHL if they so choose. But as bull-headed and greedy as the Russians are, they may continue to hold out and try to hold their players hostage, so to speak. We'll just have to see how it plays out.
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Old 08-27-2006, 03:42 PM   #43
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

Russians likely to sue Pens, NHL

By Jason Cato
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, August 27, 2006


Evgeni Malkin likely will don a Penguins uniform this year. The question is whether a U.S. judge will bar him from the NHL.

"He'll be playing, because no one can stop him," said Mark Gandler, an agent based in New Jersey who represents professional hockey players in the United States and Russia. "Only a court order can stop him."

NHL officials expect Malkin, 20, to sign a Penguins contract soon. If that happens, officials with his Russian team have sworn to fight the Penguins and the league in court.

Alexander Berkovich, a New York lawyer who has handled numerous international disputes involving Russian hockey players, believes Malkin will lose. Berkovich has been contacted by Malkin's former team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

"Hopefully, the NHL and the Penguins would respect contracts signed by players in foreign countries like they want their contracts respected," Berkovich said. "If not, the Russian team would have no other option but to go to court."

A 1958 United Nations treaty requires U.S. judges to enforce arbitration rulings from foreign countries, and Berkovich said Metallurg would vigorously pursue that avenue.

Malkin restructured his contract with Metallurg two weeks ago, then bolted the team days later after arriving in Finland for a preseason tournament.

Malkin, who has been referred to by Metallurg officials as a "Russian treasure," is now in a beachfront house in Los Angeles.

Penguins representatives and Malkin's agent, Pat Brisson, could not be reached for comment.

Metallurg officials were quoted in the Russian press Friday saying they soon could ask an arbitrator with the Russian Hockey Federation to bar Malkin from playing for another professional hockey team until his contract expires.

Malkin's new contract, which he says he signed after team officials exacted hours of extreme pressure, would end after the 2007 season instead of after '08, as his original three-year deal stipulated.

Berkovich has been involved in similar cases, including one last year against NHL Rookie of the Year Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

A federal judge in January declined to enforce a Russian arbitrator's finding and dismissed the case brought by Dynamo Moscow, which claimed to have contractual rights to Ovechkin. The judge said Ovechkin's Russian contract had an "out" clause that allowed him to return to the Capitals after the NHL lockout ended in 2006.

Berkovich said Malkin's case was different because of his contract with Metallurg.

The NHL has told its teams that Russian law allows workers to unilaterally terminate contracts by providing written two-weeks notice. Vladislav Tretyak, head of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and the Russian professional hockey league, has acknowledged this, NHL spokesman Bill Daly said.

Berkovich called the two-week notice issue a red herring. While he agreed Malkin could submit a notice -- which he has -- it doesn't mean he's free to play for another team.

"If he wants to sunbathe in Southern California or if he wants to go to college, he can do that. If he wants to work another job, he can do that, too," Berkovich said. "But if he wants to play professional hockey, he can only do that with Metallurg until the conclusion of the 2007 season."

To keep Malkin off American ice this year, Metallurg first would have to get a favorable arbitration ruling in Russia, survive a likely appeal by Malkin, then successfully sue in the United States to have the Russian arbitration ruling upheld.

Under U.S. law, a judge can't force a player to perform for any team but can prevent him from playing for other teams while he has a valid contract.

None of this would be an issue today if Russia were part of the player compensation agreement through the International Ice Hockey Federation. Russia was part of a previous agreement from 1995 through 2004.

Now, Russia is the only major country with professional hockey that didn't sign on to the agreement.

Under the agreement, European players may opt out of their contracts to play in the NHL. In return, the foreign club is compensated $200,000.

That relatively small amount seems to have been a major reason the Russian Hockey Federation refused to sign the agreement. The Russians say Malkin is worth more -- possibly as much as the $20 million transfer fees that accompany top professional soccer players.

Daly believes another reason the Russians haven't signed the agreement is that they' don't want their best players to play in other countries.

Metallurg officials have accused the NHL and the Penguins of "sports terrorism" for luring Malkin to the United States.

If the two-week notice rule in Russian law is applicable in this case, Metallurg has less protection than it would have under the International Ice Hockey Federation agreement, said Matt Mitten, a law professor at Marquette University and head of the school's National Sports Law Institute.

But Metallurg also could try suing the Penguins for compensation, claiming the NHL franchise interfered with Malkin while he was under contract with another team. Berkovich said it's a "serious possibility" that Metallurg would bring such a claim against the Penguins.

Malkin also could face a separate lawsuit by Metallurg, which could seek financial damages caused by his departure, such as lost ticket revenues, Gandler said.

"But it's a worthwhile risk for the player, if he wants to play in the NHL," Gandler said. "I'd do it."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_467942.html
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Old 08-28-2006, 12:40 PM   #44
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

I say let them sue. They'll end up spending more money fighting it than they would ever get back as compensation. If it turns out to be true that the Metallurg brass promised him that they would not stand in the way if he decided to leave, and then reneged on that promise, that would severely hamper their case. Regardless, I still say that Malkin will win the case if they do go to court, and will play for the Pens this year.
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Old 08-28-2006, 01:56 PM   #45
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

I certainly see Berkovich's point. But I have to wonder what kind of an angle Malkin's lawyers might play here, too. Specifically, if the facts of this case bear out that Metallurg officials did indeed come a-knockin' on the Malkin family's door at 3:00 AM, contract in hand, and used high-pressure tactics to get him to sign the contract, it could be argued that the contract is void because it was signed under duress.

And when I say "high-pressure tactics", I'm not even hinting at Russian mafia involvement. Malkin has said before that Metallurg officials have played significantly on nationalistic pressure, emphasizing Malkin's "duty" to his country and stuff like that. Those kind of tactics don't carry the same weight here in the States (hockey's World Championships aren't on TV in the States for a reason), but it's a very big deal to athletes in many other countries, and Russia is no exception.

Nevertheless, it wouldn't surprise me to hear Malkin's attorneys explore this angle if the situation calls for it. A contract can be deemed null and void if the court determines it was signed in a high-pressure situation where the signing party has little to no room to negotiate.
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Old 08-28-2006, 02:51 PM   #46
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

Quote:
"If he wants to sunbathe in Southern California or if he wants to go to college, he can do that. If he wants to work another job, he can do that, too," Berkovich said. "But if he wants to play professional hockey, he can only do that with Metallurg until the conclusion of the 2007 season."
I think it's fair to say that Malkin's attorneys could argue here that playing professional hockey in the U.S. could be classified as a job/profession.
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Old 08-28-2006, 03:37 PM   #47
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

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Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
I certainly see Berkovich's point. But I have to wonder what kind of an angle Malkin's lawyers might play here, too. Specifically, if the facts of this case bear out that Metallurg officials did indeed come a-knockin' on the Malkin family's door at 3:00 AM, contract in hand, and used high-pressure tactics to get him to sign the contract, it could be argued that the contract is void because it was signed under duress.

And when I say "high-pressure tactics", I'm not even hinting at Russian mafia involvement. Malkin has said before that Metallurg officials have played significantly on nationalistic pressure, emphasizing Malkin's "duty" to his country and stuff like that. Those kind of tactics don't carry the same weight here in the States (hockey's World Championships aren't on TV in the States for a reason), but it's a very big deal to athletes in many other countries, and Russia is no exception.

Nevertheless, it wouldn't surprise me to hear Malkin's attorneys explore this angle if the situation calls for it. A contract can be deemed null and void if the court determines it was signed in a high-pressure situation where the signing party has little to no room to negotiate.
That's likely the angle they will use. It's clear that Malkin didn't want to sign that contract and regretted it almost immediately after he did. There was no room for negotiation, as evidenced by his repeated pleadings to Velichkin to let him go and asking why won't they let him come over here to play after they promised that they wouldn't protest his decision. I'd think that most judges would rule in favor of Malkin in that instance, but given all of the twists and turns this saga has taken, you just never know.
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Old 08-29-2006, 09:24 AM   #48
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

Malkin's legal team waits for next move
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Today marks the end of the two-week period since Penguins prospect Evgeni Malkin gave notice that he wanted out of his contract in Russia, but his agent isn't sure what or when the next step will be.

"We're talking to legal counsel, and we'll go from there," Pat Brisson said last night. "Evgeni acted based on the [Russian] labor laws that are established. We're just playing it day by day."

Malkin remains in California working out with other NHL players. He flew to Los Angeles after slipping away from his Russian Super League team, Magnitogorsk Metallurg, while it was in Finland and submitting his two-week notice to terminate his employment.

Although Metallurg officials have hinted at taking legal steps to prevent Malkin from playing in the NHL this season, Brisson said he is not aware of anything that has been filed.

Russia declined to participate in the transfer agreement between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Contract negotiations with the Penguins have not begun, but they aren't expected to be contentious because of parameters set by the NHL's collective bargaining agreement.

Brisson said Malkin has expressed a strong interest in being in training camp with the Penguins, who this year have added a rookie session before the bulk of the team arrives. Rookies and other prospects are scheduled to report Sept. 7.

Malkin, 20, the second overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft, is in contact with family and friends in Russia, Brisson said.

In addition to daily on- and off-ice workouts, Malkin is learning about North American culture.

"He's getting acclimated," Brisson said, adding that Alexander Mogilny, a Russian native who defected in 1989 and who is in Malkin's workout group, has been a tremendous help.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:01 PM   #49
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

My guess is that he signs a contract within the next few days, and then Metallurg slaps him with the lawsuit that I still maintain they won't win.

I've always found it comical that they're asking for tens of millions of dollars for Malkin. The NHL just came out of a lockout and doesn't pull in anywhere near the amount of money that European soccer teams do. What do they expect, for the Pens to wave a magic wand and a Brinks truck falls out of the sky?
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:04 PM   #50
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

i hope they sign him quick...so if theres a lawsuit...it can be taken care of before the season starts....
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