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Hockey Canada clears Nail Yakupov to play in KHL

Dmitry Chesnokov
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Last week we reported a story about Nail Yakupov and his problems securing an international transfer card that would allow him to play in Russia for Neftekhimik of the KHL. The IIHF reacted quite angrily, and the next day the organization announced that all of the pending transfer cards have been approved. But this was not the case at all. Hockey Canada on behalf of Sarnia Sting, the club Yakupov was assigned to just before the lockout was announced, blocked Yakupov's transfer card.

[Nicholas J. Cotsonika: Collusion question goes to the heart of NHL lockout]

Yakupov himself Tweeted that he would play again for Neftekhimik soon. His father publically stated, "my son will not go to Sarnia. Even if he is (disqualified from the KHL), he will continue training in Nizhnekamsk."

Vladislav Tretiak of the Russian Hockey Federation and Bob Nicholson of Hockey Canada discussed the matter during the IIHF congress in Tokyo, Japan this week. A round of negotiations was also scheduled for Friday of this week. And now we have a resolution.

From Hockey Canada:

"Hockey Canada and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation have announced that the OHL has determined that Yakupov had no independent legal advice when, at the age of 17 years old, he signed his contract with Sarnia. His release goes into effect immediately."

The KHL issued the following statement on its website:

"Thanks to a constructive dialog and joined efforts of KHL president Alexander Medvedev, Russian Hockey Federation Vladislav Tretiak and Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson, an agreement has been reached regarding forward Nail Yakupov's play for Neftekhimik. Kontinental Hockey League points out the flexibility and the understanding of the Edmonton [Oilers] and the Sarnia [Sting] hockey clubs during the negotiation process. Nail Yakupov may resume playing for Neftekhimik on Monday, October 1 in a game against Dynamo Moscow."

Yakupov will face off against Alex Ovechkin and Dynamo Moscow on Monday. But this was an unpleasant situation for all involved. A number of years ago the Sting were reportedly involved in a legal battle with the Colorado Avalanche over where certain players may be assigned, even winning an injunction against the Avs, prompting Colorado to settle with the OHL club for $26,000. It is unclear from the KHL statement if any compensation has been paid to resolve this matter.

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