Isles' Lubomir Visnovsky wants to stay in KHL but might not be able
Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky said he plans to stay in the KHL after the lockout but the NHL might not let that happen.
|Lubomir Visnovsky had six goals with 21 assists in 68 games last season. (Getty Images)|
Remember back when Lubomir Visnovsky was traded to the New York Islanders and he contested the trade? Many speculated it was because he didn't want to be a member of the Islanders because, well, they're the Islanders.
Well, he's found another way to try and not play for the Islanders ... by staying in Europe.
Visnovsky, who signed with Bratislava of the KHL for the lockout, is going to remain in the KHL for this season. He announced the news via the following statement to Arthur Staple of Newsday:
"I have decided to stay and continue my career in the KHL for the remainder of the 2012-13 season. I am thankful to the New York Islanders for being so good to me. My decision not to play in the NHL is due to family and personal reasons. I have made no decisions on next season. My focus now is on HC Slovan Bratislava, and enjoying my family in my home country."
That's about the last thing Islanders fans wanted to hear after getting somebody who they thought could help the blue line transition to its future with some point production.
But hold on just one second, because the NHL isn't just going to roll over and die here. It was after the Alexander Radulov flap that the NHL and the KHL came to an agreement to respect contracts in other leagues. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an email to Staple that he expects that to be honored.
"We have an agreement with the KHL that would preclude Mr. Visnovsky from continuing to play in the KHL once the lockout is officially lifted," Daly said. "I assume that agreement will be respected."
Daly obviously has a point here. While the two leagues simply had an agreement on the matter, it would be in the best interests of both leagues to keep their word on this deal, particularly if the Russian-based league wants to see the NHL superstars come over to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympics.
If the KHL were to let HC Slovan keep Visnovsky for the remainder of the season than it could turn things into a mess. Imagine a couple of Radulov situations at the same time.
Moreover, this is just another reason for the Islanders fans to already put Visnovsky on their bad side. Even if these two situations weren't connected one bit to any desire of his to not play for the Islanders, it sure as heck looks that way. After following a franchise that has seemingly had nothing but bad luck and bad seasons lately, Isles fans have to bew left thinking Visnovsky is a guy who just doesn't want to be there. In the sports fandom world, that's an insult.
No matter what the resolution is, it seems pretty clear that Visnovsky just doesn't want to play for the Islanders, even if his agent Neil Sheehy told Staple that it has nothing to do with the Islanders, saying "the situation would have been the same with any NHL team." This is the second time in a year that he has tried to get out of his contract with the Islanders and it sounds like this will be the second time he's rebuked.
Visnovsky, who was born in Czechoslovakia but represents Slovakia in international play, spent the past three seasons with the Anaheim Ducks. It was just two seasons ago, at age 34, that Visnovsky had 18 goals with 50 assists on the Ducks blue line. But last season he had a precipitious fall down to six goals and 21 assists. Still, they aren't horrible numbers, and he is going to be counted on to provide a questionable defensive corps with some stability.
That's assuming he remains in New York, of course.
Either way this has to alter GM Garth Snow's plans either by adding a player from the outside or accelerating the growth of one of his young defensemen.
Visnovsky only has this final season remaining on his contract, which carries a $5.6 million cap hit. It will be really interesting to see if he tries to come back to the NHL for the 2013-14 season and, if so, with whom. If it's a team other than the Isles, well, the Islanders fans are really going to feel scorned.
The Islanders traded a second-round pick in the upcoming draft to the Ducks for Visnovsky.
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