KHL Chairman Anticipates Increased International Participation as League Grows
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Gennady Timchenko, chairman of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), said in a rare TV interview that he expects new teams from across the globe to join the Russian-based league as it continues to expand its borders outside Russia and boost its status as one of the primary hockey leagues outside of the North American National Hockey League (NHL). The KHL has been garnering more attention since the start of the NHL lockout, and more and more NHL players have signed on to play in the Russian-based league.
“Every year new clubs are joining the league (and) the name of the league itself suggests that it is continental,” Timchenko said in an interview with 100 TV Channel (St-Petersburg). He said he would also like teams from nations that neighbor Russia to join and is pleased that a new Ukrainian team will be part of the league in the upcoming season. “Such expansion is normal. I believe that integration in sport might lead to integration in other areas,” he said.
The 26-team KHL, which was founded in 2008, is considered the strongest hockey league in Europe. Timchenko, a businessman and philanthropist, was appointed chairman of the KHL earlier this year and is also the President of the St. Petersburg-based hockey club SKA.
Timchenko also discussed the future of the KHL and current efforts that are underway to expand hockey in Russia. “We are also supporting building four other skating rinks in St. Petersburg,” he said. “The city administration and the Ministry of Sport are currently working on approving these projects.” The aim of these new rinks is to encourage and gain more support for the development of youth hockey programs in Russia.
The interview concluded with a discussion how professional hockey can positively affect local communities and why clubs of all sizes should be supported. “(A club) has its fans and supporters. It has to continue playing and supporting youth teams,” Timchenko said. “A big club is always a role model for the young players, especially the ones from these regions.”
SOURCE Kontinental Hockey League