NEW YORK (AP) -- A Russian hockey club filed an antitrust lawsuit Thursday against the NHL and the Pittsburgh Penguins, saying rookie Evgeni Malkin shouldn't be allowed to play in the league because he remains under contract in his native country.
The Metallurg Magnitogorsk hockey club, which filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, also demanded unspecified damages from the NHL and the Penguins over Malkin's deal to jump teams this summer.
"We haven't seen a copy of the complaint yet so it would be inappropriate to comment," said NHL spokesman Frank Brown. A spokesman for the Penguins did not immediately return a telephone message for comment.
The 20-year-old Malkin left the Russian Super League team during August's training camp in Helsinki, Finland, slipping quietly into the United States to begin his NHL career.
Malkin was under contract for another year in Russia. The NHL had previously said the league believes any player should have the right to choose where he wants to play as long as he is legally free to do so.
After Malkin left his Russian team, he cited a Russian labor law that permits an employee to leave a job by giving two weeks notice.
The lawsuit, filed after a Russian arbitration panel ruled that Malkin is still under contract to Magnitogorsk, said the signing of Malkin to an NHL contract was a "blatant and deliberate tampering and interference" with the Russian team's existing agreement.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.