GUEST POST: Arto Palovaara – Thoughts On The Champions Hockey League & The KHL
Football’s World Cup is over. It has been a party for a month for all sport and football lovers, though no new winners at all like last time. Germany won, as you know, for the fourth time. Hockey suffers a bit from the same disease, that there are no new winners, which would be a perfect injection for the sport. The Swiss have been close, and I hope that they will continue the good work they are trying to keep up; the hockey world needs them on top.
Well, well, that’s that…I had something else in mind, and I am going talk about the KHL and the CHL a bit.
Kontinental Hockey League
Lev Praha (Prague) draw themselves out from the KHL, the finalists and silver medalists from the KHL-playoffs, a.k.a the Gagarin Cup. Not a good sign at all I think, and some of the reliable KHLers have moved and become NHLers. I am thinking mostly about players like Leo Komarov who has been in NHL before but choose to try once again his luck on the other side of the Atlantic, and then Petri Kontiola. Quite a loss of prestige for the league I think.
But the sudden absence of Lev Praha is bigger of course than two single players, for example.
Is the KHL going down?
Well, of course it is hard to say, but the gap to the NHL if we compare these two leagues is getting wider. And Jokerit Helsinki is not going to close that gap to get smaller, it has to be something else and better, even if Jokerit has great ambitions to become a reliable KHL-team. So, spontaneously, I’d say that it was a crucial loss for the KHL that Lev Praha won’t play in the league anymore.
Although, and I have mentioned this before in other words and other circumstances, that the huge problem with the KHL is the teams with no true ambitions, so called big jokes, those teams who always sack a trainer or a player just after a few games and call it a crisis, or find whatever excuse. That makes the whole thing like the Monty Python’s Flying Circus league. I do understand that if the results are not as they expected that teams have to do something, but it makes the whole thing just a big, big joke if when a coach or/and player have to leave a team after 1-5 games. What is that, really?
On top of that, there are administration issues as well – players and teams who don’t get paid on time and have to wait several months to their next salary etc.
So, the KHL-administration and the league border has a lot to deal with before they can become a trustworthy league. The only thing they have at the moment is a very good hockey, but where is the crowd? That’s another question. Half empty arenas, especially in Russia.
Champions Hockey League
CHL, Champions Hockey League…the European hockey answer to football’s Champions League.
It is necessary to make the European teams compete with each other. From the Nordic Trophy, European Trophy and now this, it is a good attempt, but everyone must understand that it requires hard work, and keep in mind to have a longer perspective. It is not going to happen just overnight, this will take several years to make it a greater tournament, but I like the idea, mostly because it is a good test to see where the teams are standing; let us say, reality checks.
A tournament where the KHL must take a part sooner or later. But for now, it is good as it is. Last year JYP from Jyvaskyla defended the Finnish colors very well and won the title. It will be interesting to see where the Finnish teams are going this year. Last year, every team except JYP was just dreadful to watch, a shame honestly. They must prepare themselves better. It’s not a training tournament, this is a real competition.