From the 12th to the 14th of June, Barcelona has been hosting the First International Hockey Forum – an event dedicated to the development of hockey throughout Europe and across the world. The forum was attended by representatives of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), several of Europe’s leading federations and leagues, hockey clubs, players’ unions, TV and marketing companies, and also by heads of associations of other sports in Europe.
Items on the agenda included current problems facing hockey’s further development, the prospects for the sport’s progress and its future integration and cooperation with other major sports. The event was a chance to get together, discuss, and consult on a wide spectrum of questions regarding the sport.
Representing the Kontinental Hockey League leadership at the forum were the president of the KHL, Alexander Medvedev, along with commerce and communications vice-president Ilya Kochevrin, hockey operations vice-president Vladimir Shalaev and sports events organization director Dmitry Kurbatov. There was also a strong presence from KHL clubs, including Dinamo Riga chairman Juris Savickis, SKA Saint Petersburg general manager Alexei Kasatonov, Metallurg Magnitogorsk hockey vice-president Gennady Velichkin and CSKA assistant manager Sergei Nemchinov.
On the first day of the event IIHF president René Fasel spoke of his work and expressed his confidence that a gathering of so many impressive professionals combining their talent and knowledge could only help the sport to begin a new chapter in its history.
Delegates from basketball’s Euroleague, from the European Handball Federation, from UEFA and many national football associations across the continent all appeared before the auditorium to describe their organizations’ working principles, their approaches to commercial and marketing activities, and to share their observations regarding the extent to which their existing sporting structures and concepts could be applied to hockey.
Themes covered on the second day included club hockey in Europe, the shape of future competition for the continent’s leading club teams, commercial activities in professional hockey, the work of the various unions, and how to realize the maximum marketing potential of the sport on a global scale. Alexander Medvedev gave a presentation during which he acquainted the audience with the sporting, commercial and financial work of the Kontinental Hockey League and talked of its TV projects, its marketing and commercial activities, the indicators of its economic performance and also of the League’s plans for the future.
The KHL chief then presented a project for a pan-European hockey league, comprising 64 leading clubs from 17 nations, and described the format of this competition: it would be along similar lines to the KHL and NHL, with a regular season followed by play-offs. Mr. Medvedev called for representatives of the KHL, IIHF and national associations to form a working group entrusted with the design and development of a project to create such a Europe-wide club competition with the goal of a possible launch by season 2013-14.