NHL to pay more for Europeans

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The National Hockey League will pay European clubs $28.8m (£21m) over the next three years as compensation for players who cross the Atlantic to pursue careers in North America.

The International Ice Hockey Federation ­ which represents the European clubs ­ has been negotiating for almost 18 months about increased compensation. Some European clubs wanted NHL players to be banned from the Olympics and World championships unless there was a substantial increase. The newly expired deal saw the IIHF receive only £4.5m for the last year.

The new contract is based on an expected number of players leaving Europe for the NHL. In year one, that figure is likely to be 70 players, and 60 in both years two and three. If NHL teams sign more than 70 players for the forthcoming season, the IIHF has the right to re-open negotiations.

"The agreement proves that there is mutual respect between the parties," the IIHF president, Rene Fasel, said. "The NHL definitely shows that they value European hockey and respect the fact that we have provided 280 of all NHL players in this recently concluded season. It is an important issue for us and for our clubs."

Speaking about a possible ban on players moving to the NHL, Fasel added: "There are people who say that we should go into a serious dispute... but I can not see the game of hockey being the winner in that scenario.

"We also have to respect that fact that the NHL is able to pay an average salary of £980,000 and that all players with potential want to make that kind of money, which they generally cannot make in European leagues. Why would we want to create an atmosphere where good, young players would feel uncomfortable grabbing that opportunity?"