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Saturday's notes: How about the cloak & dagger?

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Oh, for the old days, when you could whisk a star hockey player out of Eastern Europe with a bit of subterfuge and daring, rather than get hung up on the bureaucratic intricacies of a rival league and their pesky contract buyout rules. Maybe it's time to resort to such tactics in order to obtain Alexander Radulov's release from the KHL?

David Poile has been down this road before. This, from the archives of the L.A. Times, dated August 3, 1986:

On a warm and overcast day in Rome last month, Czech hockey star Michal Pivonka and his fiance walked into the U.S. Embassy on the Via Veneto to declare their intention to seek refuge in the United States.

Pivonka's appearance did not surprise embassy officials, who had been advised several days earlier that the 20-year-old hockey star was on his way to Rome from Trieste, an Italian seaport city just across the northwestern border of Yugoslavia.


Two days later, Pivonka, accompanied by Nekvindova and two Capitals officials, arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, ready to seek his fame and fortune. Pivonka was introduced at a press conference at Capital Centre Tuesday, but club officials offered no details on how the defections were planned and executed. Nor do they intend to.

"We're not trying to cover up anything," Washington General Manager David Poile said. "What we're trying to do is respect the wishes of the people in the countries who have helped us. They've asked us not to say anything."


When the Capitals last week unveiled the 17th such defector to North America, an official at the Czech Embassy here called the signing "rather deplorable" and charged that Czech laws had been broken.

"It could have been done officially," the diplomat said of Pivonka's signing. "I read that officials of the Washington Capitals didn't try to approach the Czech (ice hockey) federation. It's rather strange."

For Poile, however, there were no reservations.

"If we had tried to negotiate Pivonka's release, he never would have gotten out," he said.

Times sure have changed, eh?

I just thought you might enjoy that bit of hockey history while reading through your morning hockey notes...

Only 5 more home games left... take the OTF Discount and save on tickets!

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