Lubomir Visnovsky said he will come and play for the Islanders if he's not allowed to stay in the KHL, according to his agent. But when the NHL and the Russia-based KHL will come to an understanding is still undetermined.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email Tuesday that the KHL had indeed agreed to honor all existing NHL contracts, meaning players like Visnovsky and the Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk would be obligated to return to their NHL teams once the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified, likely by the end of this week.
However, KHL president Alexander Medvedev was quoted on the Sports Daily website Tuesday as saying his league may not abide by the agreement to honor contracts, and suggested that the NHL lockout rendered current contracts void.
Where that leaves Visnovsky, who is playing for HC Slovan Bratislava in his native Slovakia, is pretty much up in the air. Slovan spoke with Islanders general manager Garth Snow, who declined comment again.
"His preference is stay in Bratislava, but if the KHL says he can't play there, he'll come and play for the Islanders," said Neil Sheehy, Visnovsky's agent.
Sheehy again said that his client is not trying to avoid the Islanders, that Visnovsky's desire to stay in his hometown is based on his unhappy recent history in the NHL.
The 36-year-old defenseman signed a five-year, $28-million extension during the 2007-08 season, while with the Kings. The new deal included a no-trade clause, but under the existing CBA at the time, no-trade clauses only activated once the extension did.
The Kings dealt Visnovsky to the Oilers prior to the clause activating; Edmonton, not bound by the clause that they did not give Visnovsky, dealt him to the Ducks during the 2009-10 season, and the Ducks traded him to the Islanders for a second-round pick in June.
"He had a full no-trade clause, and he's been traded three times since then," Sheehy said. "And then he was locked out by the NHL, so he decided he wanted to stay put with his family."
Snow and Visnovsky were going to speak again Wednesday. So, too, may the NHL and KHL. With time growing short until training camps open, this situation appears far from resolved.
Notes & quotes: Longtime Islanders D Radek Martinek, who spent 10 seasons with the club before signing with the Blue Jackets for last season, skated with some of his old teammates at IceWorks in Syosset. Martinek, 36, played only seven games last season because of a concussion, but could add depth to the Isles' thin defense corps and is likely to come to camp with the team.