By now we all know about Malkin's disappearance from his Russian team, his apparent "resignation letter" and his defection to the United States. One of the later developments was the loophole in Russian labor law which allows a person to free themselves from any employment contract provided that they give a written two-week notice.
Russia, as we all know, refuses to sign a player transfer agreement with the NHL in part because they think the transfer fee of $200k is unfair. They argue that they should be compensated $2M or more for the training and development of players. Since there is no transfer agreement, the players have to end their contracts with Russian teams before heading to the NHL. When the players leave, this makes the Russian Federation very angry. The NHL is "poaching" its best players, they say, without proper compensation.
Malkin claims that he signed the contract with Metallurg under duress, and faxed a letter of resignation. Metallurg bosses claim that the fax was a hoax, that it was a forgery, that it was invalid.
One interesting point that isn't really getting talked about is that Malkin didn't exactly work out the two week notice. He just faxed it in after he had already fled the team and his country. Sure, this is a technicality, but it's exactly the type of thing that makes the Russian bosses even more irate. Their claim is that even if the fax is real, he didn't give them the requisite two weeks.
Another interesting point is this vaguely threatening statement by Gennady Velichkin (general manager of Metallurg Magnitogorsk), from a Reuters article:
"He talks about pressure. What pressure? You can ask militia (Russian police) about pressure. Pressure is when they bang your head against a wall radiator."(see kitten in photo -- grabbed from google image search)
It seems like he went out of his way to mention physical violence. What does this mean?
Velichkin went on to say that while he had been asking for $2M for Malkin, he now wants "more... A lot more"
The good folks who do copy editing at Reuters announced that "Russia declares war on NHL". It'll be interesting to see how this "war" manifests itself. I would imagine that if such a "war" takes place, we'll see some cold war-style kidnappings, ransom demands, some low-budget spy tactics and sloppy infiltration by the Russians, and some high-tech counterespionage by the NHL. Probably some fist fighting, and maybe some really awesome car chases. Where's Tom Clancy when we need him?
Seriously, if I were Evgeni Malkin, I would get my parents, siblings, grandparents, dogs, cats and all other family members on planes to Los Angeles immediately. I'd get them somewhere away from the cops who might go apply some "pressure" to them.
Although Malkin is in Los Angeles, skating at a Kings practice facility with his agent at his side, he is unable to begin any negotiations with the Penguins. They say that once the two week period is up, they will be able to proceed. However, there might be a snag if the resignation isn't handled in accordance with Russian law.
This will be really fun to watch this one pan out.
Seriously. Where's Tom Clancy? We need him to write the part where Jack Ryan saves the day.