On Wednesday, Moscow hosted the latest meeting of the directors of KHL clubs. After the event, we heard from some of those who took part.
Juris Savitskis, director, Dinamo Riga:
- Today we discussed relevant operational issues around the current and further development of the KHL. We can state with confidence that we have chosen the right strategic vectors. For Dinamo, it was especially satisfying to learn that our arena in Riga fully conforms with the KHL’s regulations in respect of lighting. We’d also like to thank everyone for their positive comments on the KHL World Games. In Zurich we took part as host team and organizer. Overall, everything went well for the image of the league and our countries. We gained valuable experience while staging the games in Switzerland, the local organizers were supportive and helped us a lot.
In February we are planning to stage another ‘Winter Classic’. All the arrangements are already in place and we will place in the same place that we used against Dinamo Minsk last season. That time it was a sell-out and we got a lot of positive feedback. Is this going to be a new tradition? Hopefully, but the capacity at that venue is quite limited. If we see more and more interest in open air games, more fans wanting to come, then we will have to think about where to stage them in the future – maybe at the stadium. We’re trying to follow what other clubs are doing and stay up to date with current trends.
As for the upcoming game between Dinamo Riga and Team GB, this could be an excellent continuation of the KHL World Games. We’re preparing for these games, and we’re looking forward to helping Great Britain prepare for the upcoming World Championship as well as representing Latvia and the KHL as we look to promote hockey in Britain.
Boris Ivanishchev, President, Barys Astana:
- The main thing is that the league is moving in the right direction. As for the reduction in government funding, right now for us everything is continuing as before. But we do understand that we need to perform better, win more games and climb higher up the table. After that, we can ask for further investment. If we talk about the hard salary cap coming in, we are currently long way short of its upper limit. Today we heard that there are eight clubs spending above the limit and two more right on the borderline. For us, though, it’s not a worry for the reasons I just mentioned.
When it comes to cutting costs, life does not stand still. Travel, accommodation, equipment – none of this gets any cheaper. If we add more European clubs to the league, then costs will increase further. And then there are players’ contracts. With regards to the team’s performance, everything is fine but there is always room for improvement. Our first task is to reach the playoffs, then we want to get as deep as possible into post-season. Our team has strengthened considerably, but our aims remain the same.
Oleg Gross, Sporting Director, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg:
- From what I can see, the league is making progress. We may not be making giant strides, but there is clear progress. Today we reviewed the talks between the KHL and the Russian Hockey Federation about new regulations, loans and other issues.
We’re preparing for a hard salary cap. We’re nurturing a new generation of youngsters, we have a farm club in the VHL, a junior team. All the stages are in place so we can be ready for this. As for cutting costs, we don’t want to economize on talent, that’s for sure. To be successful in sport requires skilled athletes and they are expensive. So we will look at all other areas where we can reduce our expenses.
We’re halfway through the season now but we won’t know the final outcome until April. Sure, things are going well up to now but the prizes are not handed out until the end of the season. So the team and everyone at the club will keep working and following our plans.
Yan Golubovsky, General Director, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod:
- This season we’re enjoying a really interesting tournament, the league is moving in the right direction. As for us, a few days ago we resolved all our outstanding salary issues – it was a technical problem that we have resolved. Wherever possible, we’re reducing our costs: player salaries are down 40% on last season and we’re trying to make sensible reductions on travel and accommodation wherever we can.
On a separate note, I’d like to thank the KHL for the chance to play two exhibition games against Team GB in April. It will be a very interesting experience for us. Personally, England is one of the few countries I haven’t visited before and I’m looking forward to seeing how the guys get on there.
Shamil Khusnutdinov, Director, Ak Bars Kazan:
- I would have to admit that when we first announced our strategy it might have seemed a bit fantastic or far-fetched. But the interim results suggest that the league is well on course to meet all of its targets. That’s something that deserves to be celebrated.
We are continuing to work. Soon the salary cap will be enforced and that’s a strict and necessary requirement. Our club will be in the right place for it.
Raitis Pilsetnieks, President, Kunlun Red Star:
- We need these meetings. Every club is working, dealing with its own problems, so here we have a chance to discuss collective issues. I’m happy that the KHL is taking a lead on many issues and demanding that the clubs comply with the regulations. Right now we can see how the league is developing behind the scenes and on the ice, where we have an enthralling championship with serious competition in East and West.
If we think about cutting costs, remember that Red Star is a new organization. In the first season in the KHL we had no experience to draw on. As a result, we overspent in a few areas: transport, accommodation. Last year we tried to cut costs and we succeeded in that. This season we have a budget where our outgoings are down 30%.