The Russian Ice Hockey Federation took its first step in the legal process against Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins on Friday when an arbitration committee ruled that Malkin violated his contract in Russia to leave for the NHL.
The three-member board voted unanimously to bar Malkin "from performing for any other hockey club in the Russian Federation or in any other country."
Malkin's agent, J.P. Barry of CAA Sports, said yesterday that he hadn't received a copy of the ruling but that he wasn't surprised by the decision.
"It's a tribunal of the Russian Hockey Federation," Barry said. "Obviously, there's still no transfer agreement (between the NHL and Russia), and they're not going to agree with what's taken place to date. ... We'll have to see what their approach will be on this side of the ocean."
Malkin, 20, was not represented at the hearing, which was requested by his former club, Metallurg Magnitogorsk. He has a week to appeal the ruling to Russia's Arbitration Court for Sports.
Barry said yesterday that they'd have to review the decision with their lawyers before deciding whether or not Malkin would appeal.
Both Malkin and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly declined comment.
Alexander Berkovich, a New York-based lawyer representing Magnitogorsk, said he planned to ask the NHL and the Penguins to cancel Malkin's contract. Should the Russian arbitration ruling be upheld and Malkin's NHL contract not voluntarily voided, Magnitogorsk likely would sue, Berkovich said.
They may ask a U.S. federal judge to uphold the Russian arbitration award, file a separate lawsuit against the NHL and the Penguins for compensation, or both.
"Whatever happens in terms of legal actions will probably happen very soon," Berkovich said.
In August, Malkin abandoned Magnitogorsk days after restructuring his contract with the Russian team into a one-year deal. …