This is all about protecting the European leagues. I have no doubt the Russian Ice Hockey Federation has their dirty paw-prints all over this. After the lawsuits filed by them, it just fits.
My question is: why are they going this route when they can pay their players more? They did it with the likes of Chubarov and other lesser lights. It's not like they are poor. Hell, what's-his-name (Abramov?) owns Chelsea in the English Premier league, which is quite a bit more expensive than an NHL franchise. If they want their Malkins and Ovechkins to stay, outbid the NHL. If they don't have the means or inclination to do so, don't get some effete, latte-swilling European organization to do your dirty work.
There are two models you can follow: the best-league-in-the-world model (ie-NHL hockey )or the multiple national leagues model (FIFA/UEFA Football). While the Euros may be all in favour of the Football model, the economics just don't work. Could MoDo ever outbid MSG and the Rangers for the services of Henrik Lundquist? Until that happens, no amount of IIHF blather will make a difference. That the NHL has the means to attract the best players in the world shouldn't be held against it. The NHL is the pinnacle of hockey, and if that means more Euros and fewer North Americans, so be it. It only makes for better hockey overall.
I'm not as big a fan of Euros playing in our junior leagues, because I figure North American kids should get an equal shot at developing into NHL players as anyone else. With the league moving to a more speed-and-skill game, how much more adjustment could the Euros get by playing Major Junior here than they would spending a year or two in the minors?
I appreciate what Don has to say, but if we are going to say we have the best hockey league in the world we have to allow the best players in the world play here, regardless of their nationality.