On the day of the closing of the KHL season, it became finally clear that the next season in our league would be castrated. The operation to cut the domestic championship is once again lobbied by the FHR, hiding behind a sacred mission. For the sake of winning the Olympics, once every four years, the regular season of the strongest league in Europe turns into a plowed field. And now the number of matches has been reduced from 60 to 56, and the pause will be as much as 31 days. Well, as an unpleasant bonus, teams that made it into the playoffs will play paired matches in the first round.
This is normal?
Let’s start with the topic of shortening matches. Alexey Morozov said that the league considered different options, but stopped at 56 games. And this despite the fact that the KHL should expand by one team. If “Admiral” pays off all debts on time, it will become the 24th participant in the next championship. In theory, the regular season should last up to 62 matches, but …
The first president of the league, Alexander Medvedev, once found himself in a similar situation. In 2014, the KHL hosted the same Admiral, as well as the Croatian Medvescak. But even the approaching home Olympics did not prevent the league from increasing the number of games from 52 to 54. The Russian national team then flew out with a bang from the Finns. True, the backbone of Bilyaletdinov’s team consisted mainly of NHL players.
But the second president of the KHL cut the 2017/2018 regular season from 60 to 56 games. Does it remind you of anything? One gets the feeling that Morozov simply repeated for Chernyshenko, deciding not to invent anything new. But something tells us that rather the federation has once again reminded how and why the Russian team achieved a result in Pyeongchang. Apparently, 56 matches – this is one of the many winning signs.
The 31-day pause, for which the KHL is interrupted for the sake of the Olympics, is also terrifying. 31! A whole month, no more, no less. What will the vast majority of teams do that do not delegate players to national teams? Are they going to train in the Emirates? Will they have a second preseason? Will they pick up and lose their shape several times? Yes, before the start of the playoffs, the teams will play four matches, but this does not insure that after the Olympics the favorites with the underdogs may switch places.
Interestingly, even four years ago, when the Olympics were held without the participation of NHL players, our championship was interrupted for 29 days. There are only two days of difference, but it is completely incomprehensible why the increase in the break has now begun. True, on the eve of the trip to Pyeongchang, some preferences were given to the players of SKA and CSKA, which formed the backbone of the national team. Both army teams played their last match a few days before the general break. Why not be flexible with your calendar now?
“We still have Latvia, Belarus, they will play in qualifying tournaments. I think the same Finns will attract our hockey players, and the KHL clubs will be weakened. In addition, the coaching staff of the Russian national team now represents the club. If the coaching staff leaves for the Olympics, who will deal with the team, hold the games – if we take this break? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here “, – Alexey Morozov expressed the position of the league.
The arguments of the president of the KHL are clear. But Latvia and Belarus still need to qualify for Beijing, and the problems with the employment of the coaching staff are the problems of the staff and those who formed it. Nobody bothered the Federation to make the head coach of the Russian national team released. At least for the Olympic season. Or make up a headquarters of specialists from different teams. Why put all your eggs in one basket? Connoisseurs, attention, answers Roman Rotenberg.
All this does not mean that the KHL should not interrupt the championship at all. Once, even under President Medvedev, the league decided not to notice all the stages of the Eurotour except the home one. The experiment predictably turned into hysteria from all possible camps: from clubs to the national team. It’s even scary to imagine the scale of the discussion that would arise if such a trick with the Olympics was repeated. Although, provided that the NHL still releases the players to China, there will be only one concrete candidate from the KHL in the Russian national team – Vadim Shipachev.
But why not take something good from the NHL? Our overseas friends let the players go to Vancouver a day (!) Before the start of the Olympics. Needless to say, that extra week that Bykov and Zakharkin had for training with the Kahaelov team did not help us in the quarterfinals with Canada? Four years later, the NHL has become generous for three whole days. Whereas all conditions were created for the Russian national team. Bilyaletdinov gathered players from our league almost two weeks before the start of the tournament. The result is the same. And only the record-long fees on the eve of Pyeongchang led to gold.
The Olympic tournament in Beijing will be held from 4 to 20 February 2022, that is, it will take 17 days. It will take another day or two for the Olympians to return to their clubs. However, the clubs can easily provide their compilations with additional rest. Still, most of the teams, which include Olympians, by February, usually have already solved all their tournament tasks. The NHL is right now close to giving the go-ahead to participate in the Olympics, but is unlikely to be ready to interrupt its regular season a week before its start. We bet that it will be no more than three days. So what will Bragin do for more than 10 days with Shipachev and a couple of other candidates from the KHL?
The KHL has recently disliked comparisons with the NHL. It was not for nothing that we first renamed the draft into a junior fair, and then completely abolished it. But the Olympic question is just the case when it is not shameful to look back at your North American competitors. If the NHL officially confirms its participation in the Olympic Games within the next month, our league needs to show flexibility and revise the structure of the calendar. You can puff out your cheeks, convincing yourself that Ozhiganov can outplay Zadorov in a fair fight, and Voronkov will go to Beijing instead of Barbashev, but it’s better to face the truth and respect your own championship.
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