And it doesn't appear that he will be joining the Devils any time soon.
According to New Jersey president Lou Lamoriello, the Soviet sports agency, Soviet Sport, has given Fetisov permission to leave, and the government has also agreed that he can play in the NHL.
The Soviet army has refused, however, to accept Fetisov's resignation. The whole situation is beginning to look like a Soviet variation of "Hotel California": You can check out, but you can never leave.
"I visited Fetisov myself," said Lamoriello, who made the trip to the Soviet Union in June.
"If it wasn't for the fact that I went over there and talked to him myself, I would have some questions about what was going on. But he was very open, and very earnest that he wanted to play in the NHL.
"In fact, he offered the resignation in order to force the issue. When I
went there, he was vacationing at the Dead Sea with the rest of the Soviet Olympic team, where they were all being rewarded for their gold medal.
"But he talked to me, and I was very impressed. The fact that he resigned
from the Soviet army proves that, because by resigning, he forfeits benefits."
Lamoriello says that the issue of resignation is a problem only at the Soviet end of things, and not with U.S. Immigration officials. Last summer, a U.S. Immigration official was quoted as saying that any Soviet player would have to resign from the Soviet army before being allowed to work here.
According to Lamoriello, Fetisov was so sure that he would be in the NHL that he wasn't preparing to rejoin the army team. But because of the holdup, he is now working out with the club and is preparing for this season.
Despite the delay, Lamoriello is not giving up hope that Fetisov will be with the club sometime this season.
"We're not giving up on this," he said. "It's certainly not a primary issue, or a focal point of training camp. But we will continue to work on it, just as you continue to work on trades, or players who hold out.
"He could get approval at any time, and we'll be happy to have him."
In addition to Fetisov, the Devils also own the rights to his defensive partner, Alexei Kasatanov. Lamoriello says, however, that there is no chance that both of the defensemen would be allowed to leave.
NOTES. Flyers rookie hopeful Nick Kypreos suffered a truly needless knee injury during a second-period fight with Devils rookie candidate Jamie Huscroft. Kypreos, who had been having a strong camp at left wing, fell to the ice and had to be removed on a stretcher. Initial reports were that he suffered torn ligaments in his right knee. Huscroft suffered a possible broken hand. . . . The Devils got goals from Dave Maley, Chris Cichocki and Perry Anderson. . . . Goalie Mark Laforest saw his first action of the preseason for the Flyers. Laforest, who was brought along slowly after minor knee surgery, played about 30 minutes, starting midway through the second period, and gave up two goals. . . . Free agent goalie Marc D'Amour started the game and gave up one goal. . . . The Devils' goaltending duties were split by Bob Sauve and Chris Terreri, who was an Olympic goalie earlier this year. . . . The Flyers play again tonight (7:35) at the Spectrum against the Boston Bruins. There are about 400 tickets left.