Yesterday morning a news release from the Halifax Mooseheads came across my desk. I figured it was just another couple of roster cuts.
Not so, in fact it was a strangely vague resolution to a very big problem for the team.
“Halifax Mooseheads GM/Head Coach Cam Russell announced today that the Club has secured the IIHF release of Martin Frk from HC Energie Karlovy Vary of the Czech Ice Hockey Association,” said the release.
Wha, wha, whaaaa?
As of Saturday Mooseheads owner Bobby Smith had said although negotiations were ongoing and there was very little movement from Frk’s Czech team. Yet four days later he’s set to lace ’em up for practice this morning. Which says to me Frk was already in Halifax when the team announced the big win.
In case you’ve missed the beginning of this saga. The Mooseheads drafted Martin Frk third overall in the CHL Import Draft. He is touted as a possible 1st overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, however, Frk’s stock in the Import Draft decreased because he had a professional contract with Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and his team said they weren’t letting him go.
The two teams appealed to the IIHF and last week, hockey’s governing body on disputes between international leagues, ruled in Karlovy Vary’s favour.
Team owner Bobby Smith said the dispute “wasn’t over yet” and said the team would be appealing through lawyers. Frk signed the long-term contract, that would see him owned by Karlovy Vary until 2013, and team lawyers were expected to argue that 16-year-old Frk was too young to be held to such a contract.
Also working in the team’s favour was that Frk himself said he wanted to play in Halifax. However, there hasn’t been any subsequent rulings from the IIHF.
So, how in the Frk did the team get his release secured ? The first thing I thought when I saw the release was “who’s first-born was sent to the Czech Republic?” Has anyone seen Bobby Smith’s kid lately?
Regardless of how it was done, however, this is huge news for the team.
“It’s a great boost for our team offensively, it’s a big thrill for our fans,” said Coach Cam Russell.
Russell, who has never seen Frk play, says it’s likely he’ll play on the top line. However fans will have to wait to see the much-anticipated Czech play, Russell says he won’t be in the lineup until the first regular season game September 10.
Jennifer Casey was born and raised in Halifax. She loves all sports but tries to stick to writing about hockey for sanity purposes. You can follow her on twitter @jenncaseyhfx or find her on her blog National Passtime