There's a battle brewing between the NHL and Russia's top professional hockey league. And it could end with some of the best players in the world shirking their contracts to stay closer to home – decisions that could potentially involve International Ice Hockey Federation sanctions and Olympic bans.

Amidst rumours the Continental Hockey League (KHL) attempted to bribe high-profile stars such as Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk to persuade them not to return to North America, Russian oil baron and league president Alexander Medvedev told Russian media the players were not inclined to abide by a previous agreement to honour NHL contracts.

"The NHL's opinion of itself is so high. … Okay, let them get drunk on their greatness," Medvedev was quoted saying in SportsDaily.ru in translations by reporter Slava Malamud on Tuesday. "We'll see how many Euros look our way.