Canadian Joel Kwiatkowski has agreed to join the Atlanta Thrashers next season despite having already signed a two-year deal to play for SKA St Petersburg.
This is the first such precedent after the International Ice Hockey Federation introduced its new rules concerning player transfers. The move was dubbed “a non-aggression to Northern America pact” as it banned clubs in Europe from signing North American players on contract. In return, the NHL promised not to poach European players under contract.
The KHL says that breaks a gentleman’s agreement between the two leagues.
This episode is feared to spark a tit-for-tat response from KHL clubs, and will see them snap-up NHL stars, even if they've signed deals to play in North America.Okay, first of all, over Joel Kwiatkowski? Look, I'm as much of a Kiwi fan as the next guy, but we're not talking Alex Ovechkin here; we're not even talking Alex Radulov. There are other guys that could fill the role here in Atlanta languishing on the FA market.
Secondly, with 7 D, we're almost solid for this year (at least as far as body count goes). If I'm a coach/GM looking to introduce some competition for jobs, bringing back guys like Kiwi doesn't really make a ton of sense. Unless I'm stocking the Chicago pond for injury backup - then having a solid defenseman that is familiar with the system would be a bonus.
But not enough of a bonus to pick a fight with the KHL.
EDIT, 5:44PM -
From Dimitri Chesnokov:
Re Kwiatkowski; the player may have misrepresented his status to the Thrashers, because he acted without an agent, according to sources.