Flyers, Fedotov saga increasingly volatile in KHL defiance

Flyers' Ivan Fedotov
FILE – Russian Olympic Committee goalkeeper Ivan Fedotov (28) reacts after a goal by Finland’s Hannes Bjorninen during the men’s gold medal hockey game at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing. The International Ice Hockey Federation has ruled in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers by agreeing that Russian goaltender Ivan Fedotov had a valid NHL contract for the upcoming season. The decision rendered Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, paves the way for Fedotov to play in North America, like he planned to do a year ago before being conscripted into the Russian military. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
(AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

Sometimes, the juice is no longer worth the squeeze.

Less than a month ago, the IIHF had to intervene between the NHL and KHL. The IIHF ruled in favor of the NHL and the Philadelphia Flyers, stating that the contract Ivan Fedotov signed in May 2022 is valid, not the extension he reportedly inked with CSKA Moskva in July 2023. There were additional sanctions placed by the IIHF, including a suspension on Fedotov from national and international play through 2024, not including the NHL. CSKA Moskva received a one-year ban on international transfers due to their awareness and knowledge of the contract situation. Under those circumstances, Fedotov could immediately compete for a role with the Flyers.

Despite the IIHF ruling and sanctions in place, the KHL remained defiant. In a statement, CSKA Moskva said they disagree with the decision, considering it biased. Additionally, CSKA Moskva claims the decision by the IIHF aims to protect the interests of the NHL. Conveniently, CSKA Moskva pins the ceasing of the memorandum of understanding on the NHL.

At the end of 2021-2022, Fedotov finished his contract with CSKA Moskva after lifting the Gagarin Cup. Able to sign with the NHL or extend with the KHL, Chuck Fletcher signed Fedotov to a 1yr/$1.1mil entry-level contract. Fedotov, confined by the military registration and enlistment office under the notion he was evading service with the Russian Army, couldn’t leave St. Petersburg.

On Friday, Fedotov started the season opener for CSKA Moskva, losing 5-2 on home ice to Ak Bars Kazan. This decision directly conflicts with the IIHF ruling, and the KHL stated that the sanctions attack the constitutional rights of a citizen of the Russian Federation for Fedotov to work.

How did CSKA Moskva get Fedotov to occupy the crease in the season opener? A small council, excluding the IIHF, consisted of vital members from the RIHF, KHL, and CSKA Moskva making the decision. The counsel included Roman Rotenberg, Gennady Timchenko, and Igor Sechin, all within the RIHF, who are close allies of Vladimir Putin.

Arkady Rotenberg is the Chairman of the Board of the RIHF. His nephew, Roman, is the Vice President of the RIHF and head coach of SKA St. Petersburg. Timchenko is the Chairman of the KHL. Sechin is the President of CSKA Moskva. It was a biased, one-sided affair with the Russian Federation in defiance of the fair and balanced contract agreement and decision upheld by the IIHF in favor of the NHL and the Flyers.

Complications between the NHL and KHL reached a new apex with Fedotov and the Flyers at the center of it. The resistance against the IIHF is a KHL decision in collaboration with the RIHF. Acting with complete disregard for fair ruling declares that the KHL is shifting toward a rogue league. At the center of this matter are the Flyers and Fedotov. In the big picture, these actions and limited control via the IIHF will make the state of affairs increasingly volatile between the NHL and KHL.

Unrelated to Fedotov, skaters like Matvei Michkov see a dip in ice time. SKA St. Petersburg denoted Michkov as a healthy scratch in their season opener, coincidentally a potential NHL superstar prospect who made it clear he wanted to meet with Daniel Briere before being drafted seventh overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft by the Flyers.

Flyers' Matvei Michkov
Matvei Michkov adjusts his Philadelphia Flyers hat after being picked by the team during the first round of the NHL hockey draft Wednesday, June 28, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Russian prospects might push to leave the KHL earlier than their contract says, which is the Flyers’ hope for Michkov, but Fedotov will be 27 years old in 2023-2024 after missing all of last season.

Briere selected Carson Bjarnason and Yegor Zavragin in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft despite retaining the rights to Fedotov for another season. Throughout this tangled saga, the wise idea for the Flyers could be to move away from Fedotov as the KHL pushes themselves away from mending any international hockey relationships.

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)