The KHL has unveiled the schedule for the 2016-17 Championship.
On Monday, the 22nd of August, the IX Championship of the Kontinental Hockey League gets underway and the regular season runs until Saturday, the 18th of February, 2017. The play-off stage is to start on Tuesday, the 21st of February. The number of games scheduled is 870 (compared with 840 in the 2015-16 regular season), and the addition of Kunlun Red Star of Beijing means a total of 29 clubs will contest the Championship.
In devising the calendar for the 2016-17 season, the League has strived to meet the needs and accommodate the wishes of the Russian national team, the member clubs, the fans of the game and the TV partners of the League.
The 870 games have been distributed over 158 match days, which means the League has accommodated a higher number of games and the consequent increase in the workload of the arenas without resorting to an extension of the regular season.
The specialists who compiled the calendar managed to conquer some serious organizational and logistical problems, and also had to observe a number of binding conditions, particularly those devised to serve the interests of the national team over the forthcoming season. For this reason, at the request of the Russian Hockey Federation and the Team Russia coaching staff, it was agreed that the knockout phase of the Championship should be completed no later than the 20th of April, i.e. at least two weeks before the start of the 2017 World Championships. The schedule also features breaks in the season to aid the national team as it competes in the various stages of the Eurotour.
In the spirit of compromise and in recognition of the intensity of the KHL schedule, the Russian Hockey Federation agreed that a list of clubs submitted by the League may play on days immediately before and after the Eurotour stages.
The League also paid considerable attention to the requirements of its TV partners, and so it is planned that the popular Hockey Mondays, which include live coverage on federal network Match TV, will feature all 29 teams over the course of the season.
The KHL member clubs also played an active role in formulating the schedule and provided invaluable input all through the preparation stage. In particular, the compilers had to allow for the frequent phenomenon of several of the arenas being unavailable on specific days of the year. In all, some 19 clubs supplied the League with dates upon which their stadia were to be used for non-hockey purposes, and the total number of days varied from 3 to 108.
The League also recognized the interests of the other national teams, of countries with clubs participating in the KHL, which over the season will be competing in various international competitions under the auspices of the IIHF.
Despite meeting the many obligations and accommodating the various interests, the schedule for the 2016-17 Championship boasts a number of advantages. One very positive aspect is that there will be KHL hockey on every day of the campaign, with the exception of the obligatory breaks in the season (14 days for the Eurotour stages, 4 days for the New Year holidays, 3 days for the All-Star Game, and one day to commemorate the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy). Also, no day will feature the maximum of 14 games.
Only 4 of the 29 teams will begin and end the regular season with home/road games. For the remaining 25 clubs, a home start means a finish on the road, while those who must travel for the opening game can look forward to ending the regular season in front of their own fans.