Prior to the 2020-2021 season, the KHL introduced regulations to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. This enabled the league to complete its season in full, without interruption. During the championship, almost 135,500 tests were carried out. During this period, 1,377 people fell ill, representing 30% of all those tested.
In the coming season, anti-COVID measures will remain in place. The league is already preparing updated regulations.
Restrictions on spectators in arenas varied — from a total ban in Nur-Sultan throughout the regular season, to up to 50% of arena capacity in use in other cities. In response to the need to ensure that the public can get back to the games, the KHL held its first webinar for club staff. All 24 KHL clubs, and 10 Junior Hockey League organizations, took part.
As the league looks to enhance the commercial opportunities for its member clubs, there are changes to the rules about advertising space. Some advertising modules currently used by the league will be transferred to the clubs, and teams will be permitted to use more promotional stickers on the Perspex in their arenas. In addition, for the 2021-2022 season clubs will be allowed to sell the league’s advertising space on the rear of players’ jerseys. In another change for the coming season, where a club’s main sponsor appears in center circle, the club crest must also be visible and occupy not less than 30% of the circle.
The 2020-2021 season was the first time the KHL imposed a hard salary cap. All clubs kept their budget within the new limits and the gap between the largest and smallest playing budgets fell sharply. The biggest budgets were four times the smallest, compared with seven times in previous seasons. Clubs that spent more than the new limit in the 2019/20 season reduced their wage bill by 23% and the overall drop in salaries was 21%.
In conjunction with KHL partner SAP, work continued on developing our Unified fan database during the 2020-2021 season. By the end of the season, the database had details of more than 1.2 million people and more than 150 million interactions.
Eight clubs had signed up fully to the scheme, and six more were in the process of joining. The club databases continue to grow, and sales are increasing via all channels, including internet shops and e-mail promotions.
Our Sporting telemetrics project was used by 21 clubs in the league. Every game for the last two seasons is stored in a digital database. In response to the wishes of our clubs, we are adding new features, which enable more detailed analysis of every player’s performance — down to the level of results in face-offs against a specific opposition player. In addition, clubs next season will be able to access analytical reports about their own teams and their rivals based on the information in the database.
In August 2020, the KHL signed a memorandum of understanding with the IIHF for the 2020-2021 season. Throughout the course of the season, there was not one violation of doping rules. The IIHF’s independent commission carried out seven inspections of our testing procedures and encountered no violations. From September 2020 to April 2021, 415 doping tests were carried out in partnership with the IIHF.
Starting next season, the tournament standings in each conference will change. In future, teams will be ranked purely on the basis of their results without reference to their position in their division, as at present. Most clubs voted in favor of this change.
There are several changes to the preparation of the ice during each game. The most significant amendment applies before a shoot-out where, instead of ice resurfacers, the playing surface will be cleaned by the ice teams. This is intended to reduce the time needed to complete games.
During the season, each club will be allowed to sign up to four players on loan, and to loan out up to four players to other teams. All four of these players must be aged under 24, three of them must be under 22. The league is also introducing new rules to prevent ‘hidden loans’.
If a KHL club and a player immediately terminate a contract for any reason, and the player in question signs a new contract with another team in the KHL, then the club that terminated the earlier contract cannot enter a new agreement with the player in question until Nov. 1 of the following season.
The 2021-2022 season will start on Sep. 1 with the Opening Cup game between Avangard and CSKA. The regular season will run until March 1, 2022. Due to the Olympic Winter Games, there will be a 31-day pause in the season. Despite this, the teams will play four games each at the end of February.
Due to the shortened season, each team will play 56 games (meeting every team in the league at home and on the road, and playing 10 additional games against rivals from within their conference). Teams will play back-to-back games in the first round of the playoffs. The schedule is currently under preparation and our planners are currently perfecting the logistics to ensure the best possible sequence of fixtures for all teams.