SUN Hockey Pool

Cold war on ice?

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:48 PM ET

These are hardly the dog days of summer for NHL Players Association boss Paul Kelly.

The union's executive director waded in on several topics yesterday while attending an NHLPA donation of equipment to Toronto Parks and Recreation hockey programs.

- Kelly predicted "an icy relationship" between the Continental Hockey League (KHL) and the NHL if it allows Nashville Predators forward Alexander Radulov to play for Salavat Ufa when he had an existing deal here.

The International Ice Hockey Federation currently is examining the transfer issue and Kelly hinted that the KHL's stance could impact the European pre-season games involving four NHL teams in Prague and Stockholm, as well as the scheduling of another World Cup and possible expansion to Europe.

"I've seen the documents," Kelly said of the paperwork submitted on the Radulov claim. "If the IIHF (backs the NHL), the ball is squarely in the KHL's court. There are a whole lot of international issues we will be meeting about in September.

"We think the emergence of the KHL is positive, because it gives guys such as Ray Emery and Chris Simon another chance to play. Do I think it will mean NHL players rush to Siberia? No."

- During a fall tour of the 30 NHL dressing rooms, Kelly said he would begin taking the players' pulse for a possible early re-opening of the collective bargaining agreement in the spring. Kelly promised such a drastic move would be done well in advance of the May 18 deadline.

"We are not anxious to re-visit what happened a few years ago," he said of the crippling 2004-05 lockout. "We would be asking: 'Has the CBA worked for the players?' In some areas it has (a rising salary cap was cited), but there are some areas where it could be improved."

- Kelly warned the Maple Leafs not to try any kind of power play to force defenceman Bryan McCabe off the team next month.

General manager Cliff Fletcher has excluded McCabe in any of his public statements about next year's team, yet can't afford to buy out the last three years on his no-move contract.

"We will not sit idly by if the Leafs take an unreasonable view with Bryan," Kelly said of what could be a messy grievance.

McCabe won't budge unless he gets the buyout money or a favourable trade destination, which appears the likely resolution next month.

- There are plans afoot to open a high-profile sports store in conjunction with the league and Reebok in Prague and Stockholm, similar to the ESPN shop in New York.

"It's to show we're not just going into these places for one game and pulling up anchor," Kelly said, adding other potential locations are in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.


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