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With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement having been ratified and signed, hockey is officially back. The New York Islanders prepare to make their season debut again the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. But the home opener won’t come without some drama added to the mix.
Some may remember that early on in the 2012 NHL Draft the Islanders announced a trade with the Anaheim Ducks for Lubomir Visnovsky in exchange for a second round pick. Following the trade, Visnovsky tried to take legal action to get the trade nullified, stating the case that he had a NTC in his contract, signed during his time with the Los Angeles Kings, and that with the Ducks GM not asking his permission to trade him to the Islanders his contractual rights had been violated. The court responded by saying that seeing as he’d been traded more than once since signing the NTC, and having done so without being requested permission from previous GMs, the clause was no longer in place.
Visnovsky’s agent, Neil Sheehy, at the time of the filing for arbitration was quoted as saying “If he loses he goes to the Islanders happy, and if he wins he goes back to the Ducks.” Well that no longer seems to be the case. With the lockout being over, the mass exodus of NHL players from European leagues had begun, and 99% of the players came back without headlines….enter the KHL.
Early on it seemed like there would be no problems with the exodus, all the players with NHL contracts playing in European leagues would come back, training camps would begin, and the 48-game season would commence as scheduled. Then reports started leaking that the KHL was offering a lot, and I mean A LOT, of money to NHL players playing in their leagues to stay there. Most players said “no thanks, I’ll be on my way”, but 2 did not. Lubomir Visnovsky and Ilya Kovalchuk stirred up some controversy as it seemed early on that they wanted to stay home.
Through his agent, Visnovsky stated that “his preference is to stay in Bratislava, but if the KHL says he can’t stay there, he’ll come and play for the Islanders”. Now the KHL has stated that they intend to honor the agreement with the NHL, which states that a player with an NHL contract can’t play in the KHL and vice-versa. However now they need to enforce that statement. Today marks the deadline for Visnovsky to report to the Islander training camp, and where’s the defenseman? Well he’s on the road…with his KHL team to their next game in Prague.
Kovalchuk stated that he only wanted to stay to play in the KHL all-star game, and is expected to report to the New Jersey Devils training camp on Wednesday. I’d expect Visnovsky to show up around the same time. Sooner or later the KHL’s hands will be forced to suspend Visnovsky from playing in their league, and Visnovsky will have no choice but to report to the Islanders or retire.

Update: Twitter reports have surfaced saying that the Islanders are expected to suspend Visnovsky today, and the KHL is expected to follow. If the KHL does suspend him, then it won't be long until he reports