The Kontinental Hockey League has confirmed that its grandest annual festival, the KHL All-Star Game, will form part of a new sporting concept – the Week of Hockey Stars. The seven-day celebration featuring the finest masters of the game is to take place in Ufa, capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, from Sunday, the 15th of January, until Sunday, the 22nd of January, 2017.
The Week of Hockey Stars, the official logo, and the unique styles devised for all the imagery accompanying the event were unveiled by the League in August of this year, and as promised, the new format involves a week-long festival. It all begins on the 15th with the MHL Challenge Cup, and this year the stars of the future competing for this trophy will have some extra motivation: the four best-performing youngsters will earn a call-up to participate in the festival’s main event - the KHL All-Star Game.
On Thursday, the 19th of January, the Ufa public will be treated to the first ever Women’s Hockey League All-Star Game, which will be an East versus West contest with each side assembling a 17-woman roster (2 goalies, 15 skaters) and guided by a duo of specialists selected from the League’s top coaches.
Saturday, the 21st of January, is capped by the popular Master Show Super Skills competition, in which the League’s finest test their mettle in trials of strength, speed, skill and creativity in various team and individual contests. There will be many of the traditional favorites (Hardest Shot, Fastest Skater, Shootout) plus some novel events which have never been seen before at an All-star Game.
The 2017 Week of Hockey Stars enjoys its grand finale on Sunday, the 22nd, with a tournament contested by four teams of the finest stars of the KHL. Each team will represent one of the League’s divisions and will have a roster of 11 players - one goaltender, nine skaters, plus one of the four best youngsters from the MHL Challenge Cup. The tournament comprises two semi-finals followed by a final, with games played to a 4-on-4 format, switching to 3-on-3 if the match progresses to overtime.
The organizers have kept the traditional and popular selection process, with players chosen by fans, journalists and the League. Full lists of players available for selection to take part in the 2017 Week of Hockey Stars will appear on the official websites of the KHL, the Youth Hockey League and the Women’s Hockey League in the very near future, along with news of yet more events and surprises which will await fans who attend this seven-day celebration of hockey in the Bashkortostan capital. We would also like to remind fans to follow the official websites for news of ticket sales.
KHL President Dmitry Chernyshenko said: "It is with great pleasure that we present the first details of our star-studded week of hockey in Ufa. The League has drawn on the experience harvested from previous All-Star Games, and worked in close cooperation with the Republic of Bashkortostan and Salavat Yulaev Hockey Club when devising the innovations and the expansion of the event. This is the first time that we will have an entire week of festivities. In addition to the All-Star Games of the League, Youth League and Women’s League, there will be an action-packed program boasting a variety of extra events, ensuring that we provide something for all the fans who attend our joyful celebration of the sport. I am sure that the legendary hospitality of the Ufa people, coupled with their passionate love for the game of hockey, will raise the standard of our annual festival to new heights and set a serious challenge to host cities of the future.”
His optimism was shared by Andrei Ivanyuta, Bashkortostan Minister of Youth and Sports: "It is no secret that Bashkortostan is one of Russia's strongest hockey heartlands. Over the past twenty years our region has attracted many of the finest players of Europe and, indeed, the world. Now Ufa, capital of our Republic, eagerly awaits this grand celebration of the sport, the 2017 Week of Hockey Stars. The Republic of Bashkortostan government, in close alliance with the Kontinental Hockey League and HC Salavat Yulaev, has done a tremendous job, and our event will bring together multitudes of hockey fans and give an additional boost to our work in promoting children's hockey and other sports throughout the Republic. I'm sure this occasion will be a delight for everyone and will long remain in the memories of all who take part, be they organizers, players, or fans of hockey – one of the most popular sports on the planet.”
Valery Nurgutdinov, HC Salavat Yulaev General Director, added: "Together with the KHL, we agreed we should raise the bar even higher and set a shining example to future host cities. Our goal is to increase the popularity of hockey, of all kinds, including Women’s hockey, which should now step out of the shadows and into the limelight. The whole week will be exciting and varied, with something to delight every kind of audience - not just those in Ufa but also people from all parts of the Republic. And it will not just feature hockey – all kinds of winter sports will be found at our festival. In striving to reach these goals we were lucky to have been part of a very friendly and capable team, which included the KHL and the Ministry of Sport, and we are on course to produce a great and superbly organized festival of sport.”