A good roundup on Eurohockey.net about the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) that will replace the Russian Super League in Russia. The league aims to expand beyond Russia, and already have a Kazakhstani club Barys Astana join the league, and there are rumours about Jokerit Helsinki of Finland as well. The league will operate with 24 teams, but only have 22 teams committed so far. It will be interesting to see who the other 2 teams will be.
I’m not quite keen on the division idea that will have ever changing divisions according to team strength (like in the soccer World Cup, teams are put into a pool, and drawn out of a hat, lottery style to determine the divisions). At least locking in the divisions for 3-5 years would create some consistency since the divisions are not geographical anyways.
The salary cap of approximately $24 million per team will be enough to retain and regain some (marginal) Russian talent from the NHL. The salary power balance is reminiscent of the balance between MLB and NPB. Unless the KHL really takes off and can bring salary levels up to near-NHL levels (though it’s already pretty impressive at nearly half), it won’t be a truly competitive league (like in soccer with the English, Spanish, and Italian leagues). But it’s a good start, let’s hope the league has a financially viable business model.
Incorporating drafts and player exchange trades into Europe will be a really interesting sports business experiment.