The League has announced the schedule for the 2011/2012 KHL Championship
On the 14th of June 2011 the Kontinental Hockey League confirmed the schedule for the next KHL Championship – the Russian hockey championship - season 2011/2012.
The championship will revert to the original format of 24 teams competing in two conferences.
The regular season will comprise 672 games – 56 for each team. The regular championship gets under way on the 7th of September 2011 with the Opening Cup, played between the previous season’s Gagarin Cup finalists – Salavat Yulaev and Atlant. This first stage of the KHL Championship finishes on the 26th of February 2012, after 130 days of play. As with the previous campaign, during the course of the regular season there will be a total of just 9 days without any games being played.
While formulating the schedule for the season, the KHL once again gave priority to the interests of the Russian national team, ensuring that there will be enough extended breaks in the championship to enable the team to compete in the Eurotour stages and prepare for the World Championships.
Additionally, in agreement with the KHL players’ union, the break for New Year will be extended by one day, as will the break for the All-Star Game. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond the League’s control, some players may still have to face one extremely busy period: the 2011/2012 KHL Championship must finish in time for the closing stage of the Eurotour, which starts on the 26th of April next year and is quickly followed on the 4th of May by the 2012 World Championships.
One challenge in forming the new calendar was to overcome the great difficulties presented by the use of the clubs’ rinks for various non-hockey events and celebrations. In particular, Saint Petersburg’s Ice Palace is occupied by such events for 50 of the 130 KHL match days.
The Petersburg hockey fans’ inconvenience is further exacerbated by the fact that in most cases these events are scheduled for Fridays or at weekends.
The rink at the Luzhniki complex, which hosts Dynamo Moscow’s games, will be out of action for a 31-day period, while Spartak and CSKA’s arenas will both be unavailable for 17 days while they host the traditional New Year events.
In the face of these obstacles the KHL nonetheless managed to create a more even and convenient schedule for the 2011/2012 campaign.
The physical load on players in certain months has been lightened from that of last season; for example, in the 2010/2011 KHL Championship a number of teams had to play 15 games in October and 14 in January, whereas in the forthcoming season no team will be faced with more than 12 games in a month.