NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Russia's Continental Hockey League has agreed to binding arbitration with the NHL over the contract status of forward Alexander Radulov, who has a year left on his deal with the Nashville Predators but signed a three-year to play in the new league.
When and where that arbitration occurs remains to be decided, and that may not be easy to work out.
"The KHL's 'agreement' to arbitrate was subject to several conditions that are unacceptable to us, including that we arbitrate the matter in Russia," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Wednesday.
"We have already responded in writing addressing those issues. There is not yet a timetable for arbitration, nor is there an agreed-upon arbitrator or place of arbitration."
The NHL Board of Governors discussed the Radulov situation Tuesday during a meeting in Toronto.
A North American spokesman for the KHL confirmed that the KHL notified the NHL on Tuesday in a letter agreeing to arbitration. The KHL suggested arbitrating the cases in countries in which the contracts are disputed.
"So that the case of Alexander Radulov would be handled in a Russian arbitration court and the cases of Maxim Mayorov, Andrei Loktionov and Vyacheslav Voinov would be handled in a U.S. arbitration court," Shawn McBride said in an e-mail.
"The KHL continues to fully support the concept of mutual respect of contracts and would like to establish a transparent system and ultimately to sign a transfer agreement between the two leagues in the near future."
The KHL had no immediate comment on the NHL's position that arbitration in Russia is unacceptable.
Radulov left the Predators in July and signed with Salavat Yulaev Ufa. Mayorov, Loktionov and Voinov left their Russian clubs recently to play for Columbus and Los Angeles.
The International Ice Hockey Federation couldn't resolve the issue in a meeting in Switzerland earlier this month, leaving arbitration or court the remaining step.
Predators general manager David Poile said Wednesday that finalizing the details of arbitration is the next step.
"I think we are a long way from getting to an eventual resolution. But both sides are talking," he said.
Poile had been reluctant to comment on the situation involving his third-leading scorer this summer. But he indicated there remains a candle lit in his office window at the team's arena awaiting Radulov's return. But Poile, as well as the coaches and players, are ready to move on this season without Radulov.
"The good news is the team has rallied around this situation," Poile said. "Radulov is not here. He is not part of our family right now.
"Time has a way of healing things as long as both sides want something like this to be resolved. Right now, I don't want to talk about him anymore because he is not here."
News from Russia indicates that Radulov is not happy in the KHL and wants to return to the NHL. Poile has suspended Radulov indefinitely. Before that suspension is lifted, Radulov is going to have to show a repentant attitude.
The Predators report for training camp Friday with 32 skaters from Canada, seven from the United States, four from Finland and two each from the Czech Republic, Sweden and Germany. Poile quipped that included no one from Russia.
"Not only was it an immature decision on his part, but it was something that was not right. It was not an honourable thing to do," Poile said.
"The timing will be good if he wants to come back and wants to play for the Predators. He has to be apologetic for what took place. Other than that, there isn't a good time for him to come back."