Soviet national hockey team center Sergei Fedorov has defected and is on his way to Detroit to play for the Red Wings, two television stations reported Monday night.
And Turner Broadcasting said the Red Wings had confirmed the defection.Fedorov, who did not travel with the Soviet team from Portland, Ore., to Kennewick, Wash., for the preliminary hockey rounds at the Goodwill Games, either was on his way to Detroit or already had arrived late Monday, WDIV-TV reported.
The station, quoting unidentified sources in Seattle and Detroit, said Fedorov, 20, wanted to join the Red Wings and team officials were talking with him. He was Detroit's fourth-round draft pick in 1989.
No one answered the telephone Monday night at the homes of Red Wings vice president Jim Devellano and team spokesman Bill Jamieson. There also was no answer at the team's offices.
But TBS, on its broadcast of the Goodwill Games, said the NHL team had confirmed the defection.
Soviet Ice Hockey Federation vice president Yuri Korolev apparently expects Fedorov to show up in Detroit.
"We don't have any ill feelings toward the player," he said. "We didn't want to begin the Goodwill Games with such an incident.
"There is a system that is in place for a player to go and play in the NHL after he is 28 years old. Now, the NHL clubs are taking younger players. Right now, we have good relations with the NHL. It's not the league, it's more the clubs that are involved.
"We don't agree with their methods. We would like to regulate the process."
Korolev said he hoped the matter was not closed.
"We are willing to have negotiations with Detroit if the player is returned," he said. "If the player is not returned, there is nothing to discuss. We are talking about the Goodwill Games and there has been no good will."
"We are aware he is not with the team," said Richard Smith, district director for the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service in Seattle. Smith said his information came from officials of the Goodwill Games' security command center.
Fedorov had been in touch with officials of the Soviet hockey team and of the Goodwill Games and "is apparently well and healthy," Smith said, adding he did not have other details.
Fedorov last was seen by Soviet team officials about 11 p.m. Sunday after he played in an exhibition game against the U.S. team, said an official of USA Hockey, the governing body for amateur hockey in this country.
Goodwill Games media relations officials said they had no immediate confirmation of Fedorov's absence.
Smith said the INS had not received any asylum application from Fedorov. If he made an application, it would be "decided on its own merits."
"A claimant has to establish that they'll be persecuted based on race, religion, color, national origin or political beliefs" to be granted asylum, he said.
The Soviet and U.S. teams played exhibition games Sunday in Portland and Saturday in Oakland, Calif. The Soviets won Sunday's game 5-3. The Americans won Saturday's game 3-1, the first U.S. victory against the Soviet national team since the 1980 Olympics, when the Americans won the gold medal.
Goodwill Games hockey begins Friday in the Tri-Cities.