It has been reported today that Lubomir Visnovsky, the last NHL player remaining in the KHL, will in fact report to the New York Islanders after attending to some "personal issues" (apparently, one of his children is ill and he wants to stay until his family is well enough to travel). Visnovsky is currently suspended by the Islanders for failing to report to training camp.
This is the second time Visnovsky has refused to report to the Islanders in the last two seasons. After being a part of a draft day trade to the Islanders last summer, Visnovsky tried to invoke a no-trade clause included in a contract he signed with the Edmonton Oilers, that he had previously waived to join the Anaheim Ducks. This issue was sent to arbitration and the arbiter ruled in the Islanders' favor.
Visnovsky spent the NHL lockout playing for HC Slovan of the KHL. He reportedly was considering a contract to play the remainder of the KHL season with HC Slovan earlier in January, which would be in violation of the agreement between the NHL and KHL not to sign players under contract in the other league. After the lockout ended, the NHL began discussing the Visnovsky matter with the KHL. The KHL decided that Visnovsky could not play for HC Slovan unless the Islander's voluntarily released him from his contract. The Islanders did not release him, but instead suspended him for failing to report to training camp on time. Visnovsky made the only clear choice for him and will return to Long Island for the start of the season.
While the KHL telling one of its teams they cannot sign a player under contract in the NHL is a positive development, it must be noted that the next winter games are set to take place in Sochi, Russia in 2014 and the NHL has not officially permitted its players to participate in them. It is possible that certain players would go to the games without the NHL's approval and face the likely suspensions to come, most would probably skip the tournament, thereby devaluing its prestige and on-ice product. By playing by the rules with Visnovsky, the KHL might have considered Russia's national interests ahead of their own.Tags: KHL, Law, NHL, Sports, Sports Law