The Kontinental Hockey League Board of Directors gathered in Moscow on Monday to discuss the ongoing modernization of the League, and a number of decisions regarding the near future were finalized.
KHL President Dmitry Chernyshenko announced that the 2016-17 season will retain the current format, with the Championship beginning in August, incorporating mid-season breaks – in November, December and February – to aid Team Russia in the IIHF tournaments, and with a day’s rest between play-off games. The format has proved popular with clubs and players, and Mr. Chernyshenko noted that when compared to last year, the 2015-16 play-offs have attracted more fans to the arenas and more viewers for TV broadcasts.
The 2016-17 campaign will have one significant innovation: the Board has decided to introduce a farm league, modelled on those in North America, into the KHL system. The new competition is to be called the Premier League, and while acknowledging the additional financial burden on the clubs, the Board believes adding this new tier will give increased opportunity for young players to break into the main rosters and will also provide valuable match practice to players recuperating from injury.
Mr. Chernyshenko also announced the appointment of Stanley Cup winner and two-time Olympic champion Vyacheslav Fetisov as head of a working group formed to devise and implement a new system for signing young graduates from Russian hockey schools. The goal is to replace the Junior Draft, which is to be phased out by 2017.