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The saga of Lubomir Visnovsky is coming to a head.
The 36-year old defenseman, who is currently property of the New York Islanders, has already been suspended by the team for his failing to show up for the start of training camp this week and leaving two empty seats on an airplane bound for the Big Apple.
Visnovsky was considering a contract with HC Slovan for the remainder of this season earlier this month, but had yet to play a game with them since the NHL's lockout officially ended on Saturday. On Tuesday, HC Slovan plays their first game since that news and Visnovsky traveled with the team expecting to play.
With the Islanders and NHL fighting it, the KHL announced on Tuesday that they are denying Visnovsky's request to sign that deal.
For the meantime, he cannot play for the team while representatives from the KHL and NHL discuss a potential solution.
From the KHL (via Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy):
Respect of the regulatory norms when dealing with partners, adherence to agreements and fulfillment of obligations are the main principles the KHL is following throughout its existence. There is a provision in the "Regulation governing signing and registration of contracts with players with existing NHL contracts during the lockout" the League adopted in September 2012, in accordance with which KHL clubs must terminate such contract unilaterally after the lockout in the NHL is over, and players must return to North America to fulfill their obligations to NHL clubs.
Forty-two of the 43 NHL players who played in the KHL during the lockout have returned overseas and have started preparations for the NHL season. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky who played for Slovan and who has an existing contract with the New York Islanders has decided to continue playing in the KHL. Lubomir Visnovsky and Slovan sent a letter to the KHL in which, citing difficult personal circumstances of the player and his willingness to continue playing in his home country, they asked for a permission to register a contract until the end of the 2012-2013 season.
The KHL and the NHL have an existing Memorandum of Understanding for the 2012-2013 season that contains a provision that prohibits a player with contractual obligations to a club in one league from contractual obligations to a club of the other league. Because of this the KHL has declined Lubomir Visnovsky and Slovan's [request] to sign a contract until the end of the current season.
Notwithstanding, the MOU provides for a possibility of negotiations between the leagues when such situations arise. Representatives of the KHL and the NHL will in the nearest future come together to consider Lubomir Visnovsky's case to establish a possibility of a compromise. In case a positive outcome cannot be reached during the negotiations, the player and the club may, in accordance with the MOU, exercise their legal right to appeal via arbitrage.
Visnovsky's agent, Neil Sheehy, did not respond to an email request for comment.
The Islanders should dig in their heels because, as we noted yesterday, they could use a guy like Visnovsky in the back.
If the situation drags on and he remains suspended, the Islanders could toll the one-year left on his contract to next season, like they did with Evgeni Nabokov, and really put the squeeze on Visnovsky. That would mean instead of becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer, he would have to wait another year and decide to continue sitting or finally suit up for the Islanders.
Your move now, Lubo.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy