The KHL’s regular season is coming to its end. But the most important question of the day regards the IIHF President Rene Fasel- will he join the league?
Olympic Ice Is History
But let us begin with the latest news on the KHL front. Latvia’s capital Riga will host the 2021 KHL All-Star Week. The city is also the home of Dinamo Riga, an established team of the KHL.
The KHL has been using three different rink sizes this season. Now, the testing period has its fruitful results as the KHL has decided to abandon the Olympic size (60 x 30) ice rink (which is called the European size in Russia). Jokerit, Lokomotiv, Salavat Yulaev, Torpedo and Traktor will switch to smaller ice in the upcoming summer. The remaining teams with the Olympic size, Dinamo Riga and KRS Beijing, will switch to smaller ice in 2021. So, the KHL will be the only European hockey league using exclusively smaller ice (60 x 28 or 60 x 26).
Rene Fasel as the KHL Envoy?
Will Rene Fasel have a future role in the KHL? Russian media reported that Fasel will join the KHL after he leaves the IIHF later this year. The media speculates about him obtaining a high-representative role in the international affairs of the league- or even the position of the KHL President. So, let us wait and see.
Rene Fasel has visited many KHL events over the years. Lately, he was a special guest at the KHL World Games in Davos, Switzerland before Christmas last December. Once again he proclaimed his vision for the KHL while denying his future role in the league. Of course, he is a diplomat, he cannot say anything right now because he is still the IIHF President.
What is his vision? He realises the hockey world is unbalanced. The NHL is too strong and the European hockey scene is too divided. His vision is to create a big hockey league in the continent, of which the KHL might be its cornerstone. It just needs to accept the European clubs from big cities and nations. And here comes Fasel’s role. He is known by every hockey official in the world, he has been respected by other sports officials around the globe while being a member of the IOC. Moreover, he is respected by politicians and businessmen. He is exactly the missing piece of the puzzle in the KHL’s global development. The KHL needs such an envoy who would lead the negotiations with the European clubs, leagues and hockey federations. Surely, the Europeans need such a guarantor too.
A New Condition?
What did Fasel say would be the biggest difficulty for the Swiss clubs considering joining the KHL?
“I would say the Swiss would allow one team to join the KHL. But they have one crucial condition – if that team coming back to the Swiss hockey system, the team would need to begin in the lowest hockey competition. It is the main question of clubs considering the KHL,” Fasel told championat.com.
So, he confirms the crucial point of negotiations. The Swiss Ice Hockey Federation and the National League (NL) as the highest level league would be just fine if one NL team joins the KHL. But that team could not join the NL if coming back from the KHL one day. The team would need to start from the lowest league. Of course, this scares the Swiss teams. Anything can happen and they need to have the back doors open. Such a condition closes the door. As a reminder, Slovan Bratislava joined the highest Slovak league after leaving the KHL.
Moreover, Fasel confirmed that Servette Geneve had negotiations with the KHL a few years ago, and he believes that Geneve’s club is the Swiss team with the best chance of joining the KHL in the future. Of course, he did not say that negotiations are going on right now. He cannot say that. However, why did he mention that condition in particular? Is there something going on behind the scenes?
Finally, just one point. If Fasel says that “a club would need to start in the lowest league,” it means they may not consider a brand new team for membership to the KHL anymore, like Lev Prague or Helvetics.
It remains to be seen if the same condition can be applied to other European leagues and hockey federations, especially Germany.
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Feature Image Credit: (Photo by Yegor Aleyev\TASS via Getty Images)