Monday, 17 December 2007

The IIHF is Whining for More Money

by Jes

The IIHF recently raised more eyebrows when it gave notice to the NHL that it wanted to re-open the NHL/IIHF agreement and get better terms for European clubs.

Rene Fasel, IIHF President and corrupt Olympic Committee official, gave an interview which highlights the views of his organization.

There are a few major objections that they have addressed. First, nobody likes the situation where a vast majority of the European players who sign NHL contracts don’t play in the NHL, but instead are demoted to various minor leagues. This is detrimental to player development and to the European leagues. If a player is not NHL-ready he should stay in his home environment and develop until he is ready.

WRONG! The NHL, and North American game, is seriously different from the European game. Playing for longer in Europe does not always help a player adapt to the NHL. Just ask Jaroslav Hlinka, one of Europe's brightest stars that have had loads of trouble adapting to the NHL. Same goes for Jiri Dopita, Pavel Patera, Martin Prochazka, and other such players.

Look, North American players have to often pay their dues in the AHL, so why shouldn't European players do the same? If a guy like Hlinka had played in the AHL at a younger age, he'd likely be a boffo NHL player by now.

Having players in the AHL is detrimental only to the European leagues, and to the egos of European players who are used to more money, better work schedules, and more fan praise that they get back home.

Just look at the signings prior to this season. There were 59 European players who signed NHL contracts for 2007-2008. Seven have been returned to their European clubs, 46 are in the North American minor leagues and only six play in the NHL. To have six players, you don’t need to sign 59.

Signing an NHL contract ... what a poor term to use. You can sign an NHL contract and still play in juniors, Europe, or the AHL. It doesn't mean you will be going to the NHL RIGHT NOW.

It also speaks to, again, the above fact that European players are less likely to put up with playing in the AHL.

Let's face it, every NHL team signs many NHL contracts, but not all of them turn into useful NHL players. That's just the nature of the business.

So very little is actually about the money?

Correct. It’s basically about player development, being able to plan your season and to secure the value of the transfer money.

What a load of crap! This is ALL about money, and everyone knows it. European leagues are sick of losing their players and getting a pittance for it. Why not just come out and say you guys want more money?

Going back to the number of Europeans who sign NHL contracts but end up in the minors – is that really a bad thing?

Yes, it’s bad for everyone. There are four losers in any signing of a player who is not NHL-ready. 1. The player. Our studies show that a player is better off if he stays at home and develops in his environment. All the best Europeans in the NHL are those who stay at home until they are NHL-ready and they go straight to the NHL club. They don’t need “seasoning” in the minors. 2. His European club. For obvious reasons, the club loses a player who could stay another year or two or three and be a marquee player. 3. The NHL club. Instead of getting a good player who is ready to go, it brings him over too early, and very often the player does not reach his potential after a long period in the minors. 4. The North American system. For every European who takes up a spot on a farm team, that developmental position could have been offered to a player from the Canadian junior league or U.S. college.

More Fasel crap

1. What studies? Can I see them? As I've shown, players are often worse off if they stay at home too long, rather than coming to North America. Very few players can jump into the NHL at an advanced age without some minor-league conditioning.

The most important DEVELOPMENT tool is to get lots of ice time and get accustomed to the North American game. I see top prospects in the Czech Extraleague who get 3rd or 4th line ice time. They could be over in North American learning 'our' game and getting more ice time on the farm or in the CHL.

2. European club - OK, that's obvious. We know the IIHF is trying to protect its leagues, and it has every right to do so.

3. The NHL club would benefit if these players would come over and STAY over. If a player doesn't reach their full potential in the minors, it's more about the player just lacking NHL-calibre skill than anything the NHL club does. Not every player that is drafted is going to make the NHL. This has nothing to do with where they play.

4. ALL North American leagues, especially the CHL, have expanded so much that they NEED European talent. There simply isn't enough great talent from our own continent to support all of the expansion. A European player will take a spot only from a 4th-line grinder/tweener that won't be exactly missed.

Besides, plenty of North Americans play in Europe. Should we say they are taking jobs away from Europeans?

In the end, this is a money grab and Fasel should STFU about 'development'.

1. In today's economy, people play and work in all parts of the world. Players should have every right to play and work where they want without other people holding their 'rights'

2. Players are better off getting North American-style development if they want to play in the NHL. This isn't true for all players, but it is true for many players.

3. There are only so many NHL spots, and many players won't make it, European or otherwise. To say it's the fault of the NHL is silly. Unless the NHL expands to 300 teams, a lot of Europeans will simply not be good enough to make the show.

4. I don't mind that the IIHF is trying to protect its members, and I don't like it when Czech and Slovak teams get raided. I just wish the IIHF would be more forthcoming about that reason instead of trying to draw sympathy by playing the 'development' card.

The NHL is not the BAD guy here. They are a well-paying league that offers the chance to play in front of large crowds and play against the top players in the world. If other leagues, such as the Russian Superleague tries to do, paid so well, players would play there, if given the chance. That's just how the economy works.

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