From boardrooms to editing suites, it’s been another busy week in the KHL. The league has announced several of the key dates for the upcoming 10th anniversary season, while celebrating the recognition of another clutch of young stars at the NHL draft over the weekend. There’s also clarification of the situation around Dynamo Moscow, and news of a movie celebrating the life of Ivan Tkachenko, the late Lokomotiv Yaroslavl star.
The new KHL season is fast approaching and work is well underway to produce next year’s fixture list, due to be unveiled on July 12. Already, a few key dates can be shared. The season starts on August 21 when the Opening Cup takes place in St. Petersburg. The regular season, with each team playing 56 games, runs until March 1, allowing for an extended break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games in Korea. That will take a full month out of the season, with the league pausing on January 24 to allow Team Russia to prepare and restarting only after the Olympics end on February 25.
The playoffs are scheduled to start on March 3 and will conclude no later than April 26. To cope with the extended regular season, the first round of post-season action will see a return to back-to-back games. Each pair will play its first two fixtures on successive days, then after a travel day, games three and four will also be scheduled 24 hours apart.
Dynamo Moscow forward Klim Kostin was the top KHL player picked in this year’s NHL draft. Kostin, 18, was the only Russian first-round pick when St. Louis took him at #31 in the weekend’s big event in Chicago. Kostin, who was part of Russia’s u18 World Championship roster, could ultimately team up with Vladimir Tarasenko at the Blues.
Kostin was not the only KHL prospect to be selected in Saturday’s draft. His Dynamo team-mate Alexei Lipanov was picked by Tampa Bay, but surprisingly went at #78 when many anticipated a first-round spot for Russia’s u18 captain. Two SKA youngsters came ahead of him, with Alexander Volkov also selected by the Lightning and Andrei Altybarmakyan picked by Chicago. The Blackhawks had earlier traded Artemy Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets and moved quickly to capture the rights to one of the unexpected heroes of last season’s KHL All-Star Week.
Among the most prominent names in the draft was CSKA’s forward Andrei Svetlakov, now a full Russian international with Euro Hockey Tour experience. He was picked by the Devils in his fourth appearance at the draft. In total, 18 Russian-based players were drafted this year.
Amid reports of uncertainty about the future of Dynamo Moscow, Russia’s oldest hockey club and one of its most titled, the KHL has issued a statement of its confidence in the team’s ability to compete in the up-coming championship and beyond.
A restructuring of the club’s management over the summer has prompted concerns about the relationship between the existing hockey club structure and the new ownership. But the KHL’s directorate is happy to work with the Blue-and-Whites to ensure that the name of the double Gagarin Cup winners remains part of the highest level of Russian hockey. As such, it is in constant communication with the new management and the Federation of Russian Hockey to help resolve any problems and secure Dynamo’s participation in the upcoming season. It is anticipated that the bulk of the playing and coaching staff will transfer to the new management structure, while there are assurances that the organization’s extensive youth system will be preserved.
Dynamo Moscow’s participation in the 2017-18 season is not expected to be affected by the situation surrounding the club.
CSKA Moscow is heading to Switzerland, while Sochi’s Olympic arena is set to stage one of the biggest pre-season tournaments.
The Army Men are among several KHL teams set to play exhibition games in Europe this summer. After a couple of scrimmages against Sibir in Moscow at the end of July, CSKA heads to Switzerland in early August and will play four games against local opposition. Two of the fixtures are against Langnau, with further clashes against Servette and Lausanne. Torpedo is also going on tour, taking part in the Bodensee Cup in Kreuzlinger in mid-August.
HC Sochi confirmed the line-up for its Hockey Open tournament, and welcomes last season’s Gagarin Cup finalists to the Black Sea. SKA and Metallurg Magnitogorsk will join the host, former Magnitka coach Mike Keenan’s new charges at Kunlun Red Star, and Russia’s so-called Olympic team, a B-team for emerging international prospects. The action takes place from August 5-10.
Ivan Tkachenko, captain of the doomed Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team, was a great hockey player. He was also a great guy. After his untimely death in the 2011 tragedy, it emerged that he had been quietly helping to fund treatment for seriously ill children and contributed 10 million rubles to that cause. Now, his life – on and off the ice – is subject of a new documentary due out later this year. Last week saw the first trailer appear for the movie, produced in conjunction with his family and directed by Elena Mikheyeva. A trailer for the film, called ‘Captain Nemo’, can be viewed here.