From the New York Times yesterday:
K.H.L. Happy With N.H.L., for Now; Hudler Says He Left Detroit for ‘Chance to Be Leader’
Jeff Klein, The New York Times/'Slap Shot', July 11, 2009
K.H.L. president Alexander Medvedev struck a conciliatory tone toward the N.H.L. in an article in the Russian daily Sport-Express on Saturday, but he seemed to be speaking before Friday afternoon’s revelation that the N.H.L. is disputing the signing of Detroit free agent Jiri Hudler by Dinamo Moscow.
In the same Saturday issue of Sport-Express, Hudler explained the main reason why he left Detroit for Moscow. “At Dinamo,” the 25-year-old Czech forward said, “I’ll get something that I was not getting with the Red Wings: a lot of playing time and the opportunity to become a leader.”
The Hudler Q and A also seems to have been conducted before news broke of the N.H.L.’s challenge to his Dinamo signing.
In the first article, Medvedev called “positive” the Atlanta Thrashers’ decision to withdraw its contract offer from Joel Kwiatkowski when the team learned that the defenseman already had a valid contract with SKA St. Petersburg.
“Right now it does not matter who was to blame for the situation,” Medvedev told Sport-Express. “The main thing is that the lesson learned from this story is positive for all parties. This case should be a step towards the restoration of civilized relations between the N.H.L. and K.H.L.”
Medvedev added that the oral “gentlemen’s agreement” forged last fall between the leagues not to poach players under contract would be improved if it were a written document.
But those statements, the most conciliatory from Medvedev in a long time (since, say, Alexander Radulov jumped his Nashville contract to join Salavat Yulaev Ufa last summer), included nothing about the N.H.L.’s Hudler challenge. The North American league argues that Hudler, by opting to take Detroit to salary arbitration last week, obligated himself to enter into a new contract with the Red Wings for 2009-10 at a salary to be determined by the arbitrator.
The N.H.L. wants the I.I.H.F. to deny Hudler a transfer card that would allow him to play for Dinamo.
In Saturday’s Sport-Express Q and A with Hudler himself, Hudler reveals that his main reason for choosing Dinamo over Detroit was the chance for “a lot of playing time and the opportunity to become a leader.”
Here are excerpts from that interview:
S-E: Many across the ocean find it strange that you decided to part with the N.H.L.’s best club in recent years. And the talk in Europe is that you have been rash.
HUDLER: I do not think so, although the decision to move to Russia, I won’t hide, was not so easy as anyone might think. However, weighing all the pros and cons, I agreed to the proposal of Dinamo. I was already interested, and the club president and representatives showed a persistence in negotiations that was impossible to refuse.
S-E: What do you say, then, to the opinion that your move was only about the great deal of money that Dinamo offered you?
HUDLER: From a financial point of view, my contract, of course, is excellent — a chance to earn that much is extremely rare. It would be foolish to say that this factor didn’t play a role. And I admit, I never expected to get such an attractive offer from Dinamo. But if it were just about money, I would have stayed in Detroit.
S-E: What was the main factor?
HUDLER: The K.H.L. is an interesting league; it is evolving rapidly. Many of my friends are more than positive about it. In addition, at Dinamo I’ll get something that I was not getting with the Red Wings: a lot of playing time and the opportunity to become a leader. According to Golovkov [the Dinamo coach], the team has excellent strength and is set solely on winning the upcoming championship. Such an approach I like. I’ve already won the Stanley Cup, and now it is time to take a new trophy.
S-E: Dinamo came to you immediately after the end of the season?
HUDLER: The first time it asked me two years ago, when my contract expired with Detroit. Representatives of Dinamo asked me my plans, and even then were ready to make a good proposal. But I just said that I will not go. At that time I really wanted to win the Stanley Cup. That same season, Detroit was the best.
S-E: Aren’t you afraid that your current decision will permanently close the road to the N.H.L. to you?
HUDLER: By the standards of hockey, I’m still quite young. I hope I have at least 10 more years. Therefore, over time, I can always come back to Detroit, where I have had an excellent relationship with everyone. While you are young, you should try it. A couple of seasons in the K.H.L. will not exactly hurt me. Moreover, I am sure that Russia will be able to progress.
S-E: Have you talked to the people in Detroit?
HUDLER: Yes, I spoke with head coach Mike Babc0ck and several players. I understand that my move puzzled and somewhat upset some of them, but I explained my decision that at this stage Dinamo will be more interesting to me. In general, they all wished me luck.
S-E: Is it true that your parents were opposed to his departure from Detroit?
HUDLER: This is not true. Dad said that he will accept all my decisions, as long as it is good for my career.
S-E: Six years ago you had a half-season with Ak Bars. What’s memorable?
HUDLER: Then I wasn’t able to show all of what I was capable of. I had an injury — because of this had to miss almost the entire playoffs. But over all it was a good time. …
S-E: Have you talked to any of your future teammates?
HUDLER: Not yet. Although there are some familiar persons, for example, Markov on defense Markov. Danny’s a great guy. We played together in Detroit. I know, of course, my partner on the national team, Karel Rachunek. Incidentally, before signing a contract I spoke with the Avangard forward Jakub Klepis. He’s my old friend — it was interesting to hear his opinion. He had only good things to say about the K.H.L.
Last edited by davetherave on Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:03 pm; edited 1 time in total