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Surprise, Surprise, the Russians Are Upset Over the Fedotov Ruling From the IIHF

(Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Based on the verbiage, how the fans were reacting, and even how the media members were talking about the Ivan Fedotov situation, it came as a surprise to many that the IIHF eventually ruled in favour of the Philadelphia Flyers.

The situation has been confusing, concerning, and complicated for a variety of reasons but after Fedotov signed his 2-year deal with CSKA Moscow, the Flyers tolled his contract and brought it up with the IIHF, who then had to make a ruling over whose contract is valid.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise at all that CSKA Moscow is appealing the decision regarding Fedotov’s contract. IIHF President, Luc Tardif, said that he has received the appeal documents but no further comments have been made. The Russians are refusing to give up or let go and unfortunately for the goaltender, he will be continually dragged into the middle of this skirmish.

The Flyers signed Fedotov to a one-year ELC back in the summer of 2022 and then almost immediately, the Russians not only detained the goaltender but then sent him to the Arctic for military conscription that he was apparently trying to evade in the first place. It was a concerning few days, the goaltender fell off the grid, was randomly sent to a hospital, but then eventually found his way to the Arctic where he was set to spend the rest of the year. The Russians urged everyone that he would be able to play hockey in the military but were extremely hushed and vague when referring to his contract situation post-service.

As his one-year of service was coming to a close, rumours starting surfacing that CSKA Moscow would sign the goaltender as if there were no issues regarding the situation. The NHL had tolled Fedotov’s contract in due part because of the CBA, which essentially allowed the Flyers to retain his rights for another season. The initial rumours of Fedotov signing a contract with CSKA Moscow then became a reality and he was extended to a 2-year deal, ushered into a press conference, talked about his military service and how he just wants to play hockey, while being excited about the prospects of doing what he loves all over again. 

Daniel Brière and company did not settle or sit back as they then signed Belarusian goaltending prospect, Alexei Kolosov to an ELC within the same time period – not that one actually has to do with the other but oddly coincidental nonetheless. After bringing it to the IIHF, they deliberated and discussed the situation at large and spent over 2 weeks trying to come up with the right solution. The day of judgement was nigh and on the 14th of August, the IIHF ruled in favour of the Flyers citing that:

“Based on the evidence provided to the IIHF by the involved parties, the IIHF has determined that Ivan Fedotov has a valid NHL Contract with the Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Club for the 2023/2024 season. Accordingly, the IIHF has determined that Ivan Fedotov was in breach of a Professional Player Contract per Article II.4.1 of the IIHF International Transfer Regulations when he signed a contract with CSKA hockey club for the 2023/2024 season.
In accordance with Article II.4.1 of the IIHF International Transfer Regulations, Ivan Fedotov was given two (2) weeks to either go back to his former club (i.e Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Club); or obtain a release from his former club. As neither action occurred within the given period, the IIHF has imposed the following sporting sanctions on Ivan Fedotov:

– A four (4) month suspension on playing in official national and international games during playing periods. The suspension shall take effect on 1 September 2023 (first CSKA regular season game) and conclude on 31 December 2023.
In accordance with the Article II.4.2 of the IIHF International Transfer Regulations, it shall be presumed, unless established to the contrary, that any club signing a Player who has breached his Professional Player Contract has induced that Player to commit a breach. Therefore, as CSKA Hockey Club was aware of the Player’s NHL Contract and did not establish to the IIHF that it has not induced the Player to commit a breach of his Professional Player Contract, the IIHF has imposed the following sporting sanctions on CSKA Hockey Club:

– A one (1) season ban on International Transfers taking effect on 11 August 2023 and concluding on 10 August 2024.”

They felt that CSKA Moscow and the KHL breached the IIHF International Transfer Regulations and then banned the goaltender from participating in any international fixtures for the next 4 months while also banning him for one season in International Transfers.

As expected, the Russians didn’t take this information lightly nor were they going to let this situation go and are reportedly willing to go against the IIHF’s ruling:

Hockey News Hub has been all over this situation and have given tremendous updates of the proceedings for quite awhile, including the statement made by the KHL shortly after the ruling:

It’s fair to say that things are going to get sticky really quickly with the Russian Ice Hockey Federation believing there is a clear bias against them since the invasion of the Ukraine. Russia – and eventually Belarus – have been banned from international fixtures ever since and it seems that will continue for heading into 2023-24.

A few of the key snippets from their statement:

“It seems absurd that the International Federation, which previously banned Russia from all international competitions, still insists on extending its jurisdiction to our country and our national championship. The decision taken by the IIHF are essentially aimed at protecting the interests of the NHL, which is not even a member of the IIHF and itself refused to extend the memorandum of understanding with the KHL.”

“As for CSKA goalkeeper Ivan Fedotov, he is at the training camp of the main team in the city of Minsk and is preparing for the opening game of Fonbet of the Continental Hockey league Championship of the 2023/2024 season against Ak Bars Kazan”

“The leadership of the CSKA hockey club has no doubts that Ivan will take part in the upcoming season.”

It is very clear that they are not ready to stand by the decision made by the IIHF and are very much preparing to breach the ruling no matter the consequences – which they seemingly believe don’t exist. They are under the assumption that the NHL has received preferential treatment and will be appealing the decision.

What this means for Fedotov remains to be seen as the young goaltender just can’t catch a break. The Flyers signed him to his ELC in the summer of 2022 then because he was forced to miss the entire season due to his military service, the CBA allowed the contract to be tolled to the following season. The KHL doesn’t seem to recognize that and went about their merry way in signing the goaltender to their own 2-year contract.

The memorandum of understanding was squashed a couple years ago between the two leagues but this is the first instance where an issue has actually risen. For now, the Flyers technically won the battle, but we’ll see over the next coming days, weeks, or even months what that actually entails.

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