- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2005

The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, one of the brightest young stars to enter the NHL in years, is being sued by his former team in the Russian Super League, Moscow Dynamo.

Ovechkin was served with legal papers Saturday in Montreal by a court officer who seemed more excited to be meeting an NHL star than he was in doing his job.

Details of the suit remain unclear, although it is believed Moscow Dynamo is seeking some kind of cash settlement. The suit reportedly claims Dynamo had an option on Ovechkin’s rights as a result of a Russian arbitration ruling, and the team wants that ruling enforced.

Before signing a contract with the Caps last summer, Ovechkin left Dynamo after playing out his option and signed with another Super League team, Avangard Omsk. The latter contract contained an “out” clause that allowed the star to join the Caps if the year-long NHL lockout ended.

However, Dynamo contested the contract Ovechkin signed with Avangard, saying it had an option to match any offer. The arbitrator ruled in Dynamo’s favor, but when the left wing moved to the United States, the matter seemed moot.

Both the Caps and Ovechkin’s agent, Don Meehan of Toronto, said the suit has no merit.

“The Caps are aware of … [the] attempt to enforce a Russian arbitration ruling,” Washington general manager George McPhee said in a statement. “We have been assured by legal counsel that both the ruling and the attempt to enforce it in the U.S. are without merit. Alex exercised his right to opt out of the Russian contract … and signed with the Capitals.”

Said Meehan in a statement: “Alex entered into a valid and legal NHL contract with Washington for this and the next two years.”

McPhee said the suit will not stop Ovechkin from playing for the Caps.

Sources with knowledge of situation said last night it appears Dynamo is seeking a financial settlement rather than the return of Ovechkin. The likelihood of that happening would have been much higher had Russia signed the new International Ice Hockey Federation transfer agreement. Since it refused to sign, the possibility of money changing hands is remote.

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