The KHL held a briefing on the 26th of June at the League’s Moscow headquarters, at which KHL Hockey Operations Vice-President Vladimir Shalaev presented the schedule for the 2012/2013 season of the KHL Championship, and described some of the difficulties involved in putting together the calendar for the new campaign.
“Unfortunately, in putting together the schedule for the new KHL Championship we had to work within a very narrow time frame. The length of the season is severe restricted by the timing of the World Championships,” said Vladimir Shalaev. “There is a possible solution – moving the latter tournament. We put this forward at the recent hockey forum in Barcelona, proposing that the World Championships be moved forward to February, and that the tournament not take place in an Olympic year. This would mean everyone in the club championships getting a two-week break at the end of winter. Everyone would benefit: the players would set off for the World Championships in peak playing condition, while the KHL Championship would not be confined to such a tight schedule.”
Mr. Shalaev also spoke of the numerous obstacles beyond the League’s control, namely the frequent use of hockey venues for other events: “It is a big problem, because hardly any of the clubs in the KHL own their home arenas. Lev of Prague, for instance, has notified us of 39 days on which the rink is unavailable for home games during the coming season. We also sympathize with Salavat Yulaev, who will have a long and arduous spell on the road during the winter while Ufa hosts the 2013 World Junior Championships. The team is also due to play on New Year's Eve in the Spengler Cup.”
The new season schedule divides the teams into two conferences and four divisions, as follows:
Bobrov Division: Vityaz Chekhov, Dynamo Moscow, Dinamo Riga (Latvia), Lev Prague (Czech Republic), Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia), SKA Saint Petersburg and Donbass Donetsk (Ukraine).
Tarasov Division: Atlant Moscow Region, Dinamo Minsk (Belarus), Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Severstal Cherepovets, Spartak Moscow, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod and CSKA Moscow.
Kharlamov Division: Ak Bars Kazan, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, Traktor Chelyabinsk and Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk.
Chernyshov Division: Avangard Omsk, Amur Khabarovsk, Barys Astana (Kazakhstan), Metallurg Novokuznetsk, Salavat Yulaev Ufa and Sibir Novosibirsk.
Each team will play against every other team twice – once at home and once as the visitors. There will be an additional pair of games, one at home and one on the road, between the following pairings:
Ak Bars – Salavat Yulaev
Amur – Atlant
Barys – Avangard
CSKA – Spartak
Dinamo Riga – Dinamo Minsk
Dynamo Moscow – SKA
Lev – Slovan
Lokomotiv – Severstal
Metallurg Magnitogorsk – Traktor
Metallurg Novokuznetsk – Sibir
Torpedo – Neftekhimik
Vityaz – Donbass
Yugra – Avtomobilist
Each team will therefore play 52 matches in the regular season, which ends on 17th of February 2013.
The KHL Championship gets underway on the 4th of September in Moscow with the game for the Lokomotiv Cup, contested by the 2012 Gagarin Cup finalists - Dynamo Moscow and Avangard Omsk. There will be no KHL matches on the 7th of September, as this will be a day of mourning on the anniversary of the disaster which tragically cost the lives of so many of the Yaroslavl team.
Two of the regular season games between Dynamo Moscow and SKA Saint Petersburg are planned to take place in New York on the 19th and 20th of January.
The Fifth KHL All-Star Game will be a two-day event and will take place in Chelyabinsk on 12-13th of January.
The second stage of the season, the play-offs for the Gagarin Cup, begins on the 20th of February and each round will be a best-of-seven series. Game 7 of the final series, if necessary, is scheduled to take place on the 19th of April.