Gene J. Puskar/AP
Evgeni Malkin of the NHL's Pittsburgh

Russian Hockey League Takes on NHL

June 25, 2008 01:12 PM
by Denis Cummings
A newly formed Russian hockey league is offering large contracts to lure players away from the NHL, but it has yet to land a star player.

30-Second Summary

The Continental Hockey League (CHL or KHL) will begin play in 2008 with 24 teams from Russia, Belarus, Latvia and Kazakhstan. Backed by Russian energy companies and other state monopolies, the league intends to pay big money to attract some of the world’s top players.

The league recently offered Penguins star Evgeni Malkin a deal that would make him the world’s highest-paid hockey player, but Malkin has expressed little interest. They are reportedly looking to sign aging Czech superstar Jaromir Jagr as well.

“At the moment, the top players will continue playing in the NHL because they believe it’s the best league in the world,” said Russia’s Minister of Sport Slava Fetisov. “But if our league gains the same status as our North American counterparts, the new Ovechkins, Kovalchuks and Datsyuks will stay here.”

Russian hockey authorities have been frustrated by the exodus of hockey talent to the NHL since the fall of the Soviet Union. In an attempted to keep its best players in Russia, the Russian Hockey Federation refused to renew an international transfer agreement with the NHL last May.

In December, other IIHF countries backed out of the deal, and it appears that there will be no transfer agreement for 2008-09. The lack of a transfer agreement essentially creates an international free market for hockey players; European teams will be able to sign players away from the NHL without compensating the NHL teams, and vice versa.

The CHL hopes players will follow to money to Russia, but Malkin and other young Russian players have maintained that they want to play in the NHL, at least for now.

Headline Link: CHL offers Malkin contract

Background: The Continental Hockey League and the IIHF transfer agreement

Continental Hockey League
IIHF Transfer Agreement

Opinion & Analysis: What effect does this have on the NHL?

Related Topics: Russian soccer and basketball


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