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RUSSIAN REALITY: NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly indicated that Predators RW Alexander Radulov, who in July signed with Russia's Continental Hockey League (KHL) club Salavat Yulaev Ufa, is "having second thoughts about his move." In Edmonton, Jim Matheson cited a source as saying that Radulov "will stay one season in Ufa, then return" to the NHL. Radulov will owe the Predators a "year at his current salary for bolting but will likely get a rich new extension in Nashville" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/14). Meanwhile, in Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont reported Flames LW Marcus Nilson reportedly is "attempting to hook on with" the KHL. Nilson's agent J.P. Barry said the Flames "are being good about this." Dupont: "The NHL is arguing that Radulov has a binding deal to play with the Predators and believes the KHL must honor the player's commitment to Nashville. Well, Nilson has a binding deal to play with Calgary, but it's OK for him to go the route that the league wants to deny Radulov? Hello to the goose and the gander. ... Even if the Flames are OK with his 'defection,' it appears Nilson running off to [KHL club CSKA Moscow] would only introduce a troubling shade of gray to the process" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/14).
MAKING HIS MARK: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes the pension court battle between the NHL and the NHLPA will be a "watershed moment" for Kelly. It is not important that Kelly "wins the fight, only that he is willing to wage it," as by doing so, he "should satisfy a small but influential group of his members who remain suspicious of anything that smacks of a cozy relationship with the NHL." Union sources have indicated that the players are "keeping a close eye on Kelly," as they "do not want to see any sign of overt chumminess with management." However, the pension dispute "could satisfy the hardliners that Kelly is his own man, ready to go to war for the players, but at the same time not provoke a major war that might derail the gravy train for the moderates" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/15).
In Miami, Michelle Kaufman reported La Liga club FC Barcelona is "looking to launch a sister team in Miami in conjunction" with MLS. A Barcelona spokesperson said that President Joan LaPorta and CEO Joan Olive last week were in the Miami area "exploring the market but stressed that talks of starting a U.S. team are in the preliminary stages." LaPorta and Olive also visited N.Y. and are "weighing a few East Coast cities" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/14).
LEARNING FROM HISTORY: With yesterday marking the one-year anniversary of the Patriots' Spygate scandal, CBS' Charley Casserly reported the NFL this offseason "hired personnel from federal agencies whose job it was to protect our embassies from wire-tapping." Casserly: "What’s happening at stadiums during these games is first of all, we have personnel that people, that the teams are not even going to know are there and … checking to see if the frequency between the coach/player system is being disturbed deliberately.” The NFL personnel can also check to see if “players are wrongfully being miked” and they will be “able to listen in to the coach/player communication system to see when that cutoff switch goes off in 15 seconds is it being bypassed." Also, "more aggressive checks of locker rooms, players’ equipment and coaches’ booths” are taking place (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 9/14).
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DAVYDENKO CLEARED: The ATP Friday cleared Nikolay Davydenko of charges that he fixed a match last summer. The ATP said that it "found no evidence of wrongdoing" by Davydenko, his opponent, Martin Vassallo Arguello, or "anyone else associated with their match." The ATP in a statement said it has "now exhausted all avenues of inquiry open to it, and the investigation is now concluded" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/13).