Former (and future) Detroit Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler can't play for his new team just yet.
The 25-year-old made headlines when he signed a two-year, $10-million contract to play for Dynamo Moscow of the KHL this summer despite filing for arbitration with the Wings. It's a month later and he's in the headlines again - turns out he still hasn't been given an "international transfer card."
In fact, if he were to play for Dynamo without the card he could face sanctions from the IIHF says the Detroit Free Press.
Back in early August, Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy blog posted a Russian interview with Hudler where the question of his lack of a transfer card came up. He said "I am not worried about the transfer card. It is going to come." That was almost a month ago now!
What's the holdup? The National Post says the ITC requires a signature from the player, the incoming federation and the outgoing federation involved in the transaction. Hudler? Check. Russian federation? Check. USA Hockey? Umm...Yes, for some reason, USA Hockey has to sign off on the Czech forward's move to Russia. Seems a little strange, but okay!
An IIHF spokesperson says the federation has to check with the NHL to make sure everything is okay before it signs the card.
The New York Times hockey blog "Slap Shot" reports IIHF President René Fasel addressed the situation during a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday:
"We conducted an investigation and found that [Jiri] Hudler did not sign the NHL arbitration decision, his agent did, and we cannot decide whether he had that right. We will defend Hudler and the law. We will decide all the questions regarding Hudler at the Victoria Cup in Zurich, where a meeting between the IIHF, the KHL and the NHL is to take place. I hope that the two leagues finally agree on the transfer agreement."
Also, when asked what would happen if the KHL season began and Hudler was playing without a transfer card, Fasel said he thinks the situation will be resolved by that time.
As for the Detroit Red Wings, are they hoping some bizarre twist sends Jiri Hudler back to Motown for the upcoming season? The Windsor Star says no. Bob Duff spoke to Wings GM Kenny Holland, who he says is of the opinion that this whole thing about USA Hockey not signing the transfer card is "immaterial." Duff adds this fairly succinct Holland quote: "He won’t be back."
Looks like the powers that be are just trying to make Hudler sweat a little for jumping ship. Or, maybe it just looks that way.