According to a report from Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) insider Aivis Kalnins, the KHL will contract by two teams at the end of March following its annual Board of Governors meetings.
As Kalnins reports, the KHL has not yet said which two teams it will shut down, but Russian tabloid Sport-Express is reporting that HC Yugra from Khanty-Mansiysk, Russian and HC Lada Togliatti from Tolyatti, Russia will be the two sacrifices.
If this is true, it’s not difficult to understand why. Multiple reports have indicated that the KHL has been bleeding money for years now. The league’s richest teams like SKA Saint Petersburg, Ak Bars Kazan and Dynamo Moscow effectively support the poorest teams in a welfare state like system. Both HC Yugra and HC Lada Togliatti have been in the league’s basement both financially and competitively for years now, so it’s no real surprise to see them on the chopping block.
What is surprising however is the timing of the announcement. The KHL is currently gearing up for its Gagarin Cup Playoffs, set to take place later this month. An odd time to just axe two of your franchises, no? Then again, this is the KHL we’re talking about… so things don’t have to really make sense. After all, this is the league that elected to take another week out of their schedule just so they could celebrate their gold medal win at the 2018 Winter Olympics…
Former NHLer knocks out referee out cold with a brutal sucker punch
Hands up if you remember former NHLer Andrei Kovalenko. The big Russian winger played over 600 career games in the NHL split between the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins, but left for the KHL, or rather its predecessors the Russian Super League (RSL) following the 2000-2001 NHL season.
The big man affectionately known as “The Tank” by former teammates is probably best known for being part of the trade package that netted the Avs goaltender Patrick Roy from the Canadiens. Covalence was shipped to the Habs, along with goaltender Jocelyn Thibault and Martin Rucinsky for Roy and forward Mike Keane. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since leaving North America and retiring from professional hockey in Russia in the late 2000s, Kovalenko has remained in the sport and is currently the head of the KHL’s Players Association. As such, Kovalenko is a spokesman for the league and often participates in promotional events including one earlier this week in the league’s United Corporate league where he apparently took issue with a referee’s call. So much so that he delivered a devastating sucker punch to the official, knocking him out cold and giving him a concussion.
Check it out:
WTF!? The referee, Vladislav Kiselev, was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a concussion. He made an official statement to Swedish hockey magazine Aftonbladet the next day saying:
“He could not control himself, he hit me several times. He was furious. I told him to go and sit in the stall, then he pulled me in, burst out all other judges and players - and hit me hard again.”
Kovalenko has reportedly not reached out to Kiselev to offer an apology or to explain his actions. Double WTF!?