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  • Slava Fetisov’s Asian Dreams

    Posted by simon c on 2008 October 22日 Wednesday

    Straight from the horse’s mouth (from the excellent NY Times Slapshot blog): 

    Tuesday was a special day in the K.H.L. Vyacheslav Fetisov, already the Russian Minister of Sport and as of last week a senator in the upper house of the federal legislature, was elected chairman of the league board of governors. The 50-year-old ex-CSKA, U.S.S.R., Devils and Red Wings star promptlytold the K.H.L. Web site, “We should develop in the direction of the Far East, and make the league not only European but also Asian.” He said there was interest in joining the K.H.L. from businessmen in Japan, South Korea and China.

    Given the 50 percent drop over the last three months in the price of oil — the basis of the Russian economy and of the Gazprom-funded league’s wealth — K.H.L. expansion into other countries seems more and more like a pie-in-the-sky proposition. Falling oil prices and a domestic financial sector hard hit by the current credit crisis have already forced the Russian government to rethink budget and foreign policy initiatives, as the Times’Clifford J. Levy reports. Given such circumstances, does Fetisov really believe that the Continental Hockey League will soon be icing teams in Seoul and Beijing?

    He’s said this before, so I guess Slava’s really got KHL’s eyes on Asia, but chances are slim to nil for many reasons, including the ones in the blog post, but if the KHL is interested in Asia, they’re (or is it just he, as in Fetisov) more likely interested in absorbing the Asia League with existing franchises and fanbase (however small) rather than creating new franchises in the Far East. Then again with the level of play in the Asia League, the teams would get slaughtered in the KHL without heavy reinforcements, and that wouldn’t work out well in terms of fostering home grown talent and interest in the game.

    But this is most likely just old man talking crazy without having read through any reports or thought through the logistics. Asia League games draw anywhere from a few hundred spectators to a couple of thousand fans at best, far cry from attendance numbers KHL is trying to put up to compete with the NHL. Hockey just isn’t a major sport in North East Asia. (But I’d love to see something like Amur Khavarovsk’s 2nd team play in the Asia League again, that’d be neat and good for Asian hockey development.) 

    Here’s a fun old time Fetisov and Larionov photo for kicks.

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