Hockey and the Coronavirus: Updates

Below the jump, an attempt to put together a running list of hockey competitions that have been cancelled, suspended, or otherwise disrupted by the outbreak of COVID-19. The list will be updated, and heads-up notes etc. will be much appreciated! Read on, and do check back for further updates…

LATEST UPDATE: March 26th (international hockey update)

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Foreign Players in the KHL: the 2020-21 List

Early in the 2018-19 season, we took a look at the foreign player rules in the KHL — those rules have remained substantially the same since then, but there was one significant development late last month. The KHL has amended its regulations so that Kazakh players (i.e. players eligible for the national team of Kazakhstan) will no longer count as Imports when playing for Russian teams; in that, they now have the same status as Belarusians. With that in mind, below the jump you’ll find a list of Import players currently under contract for 2020-21 with KHL teams — read on…

Last update: June 1st, 2020 (Torpedo).

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More Early Off-Season Doings

Justin Danforth, here in action with Lukko in Finland’s Liiga, is one of the intriguing imports signed by Vityaz this past weekend. (Image Source)

The weekend brought further interesting developments in the KHL off-season; we have, for example, an old school player-for-player trade to report! And little Vityaz Moscow Oblast have made a big splash in the opening days of free agency, bringing in intriguing imports and proven KHL talents both. Read on, for that and more!

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May 1st, and Hello, 2020-21!

Veteran scoring forward Roman Starchenko will be staying with Barys for the next couple of seasons, although the rest of the news from Day 1 of the signing season was not so good for the Kazakh club. (Image Source)

We are still miles from knowing when the next hockey games will be played, but May 1st nonetheless saw the opening of the 2020 off-season signing period in the various Russian leagues. The KHL, its 2019-20 season prematurely ended by the pandemic, is embarking on the era of the “hard” salary cap; a late attempt, led by CSKA Moscow, to get that limit raised to 1.3 billion rubles was voted down by the clubs last week, and it will remain at 900 million. The introduction of the “hard” cap should make for an active off-season, and indeed Day 1 of it saw some big moves. Read on, as we resume blogging here after a bit of a brain break, and take a look at the biggest of them!

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Admiral Vladivostok Withdraw From the KHL for 2020-21 (More to Come)

Per an announcement on the club’s official website, Admiral Vladivostok will not participate in the 2020-21 KHL season. This development follow a decision by the Primorsky Krai regional government to withdraw all funding from professional sports; those monies will now be used for measures to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the reports, funding for youth hockey initiatives will be maintained, and Admiral’s MHL junior team, Taifun Primorsky Krai, will play next season.

Much more to come on this story today — below the jump are some questions and answers about the situation, with appropriate links, and there are more to come. And of course if you have questions that you do not see there, feel free to fire them into the comments section, and I’ll do my best to find answers!

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Looking Ahead in the KHL

A very Happy Birthday to Mr. Sergei Mozyakin! The KHL’s greatest-ever player turns 39 today, and his playing future will be one of the big stories of the 2020 off-season.

And just like that, the 2019-20 hockey season in Russia has come to an official end — probably. Most leagues have either finished their season (the ZhHL) or have declared the current campaign cancelled (the KHL, VHL, and PVHL as of last week), and only the two junior leagues are still holding out any hope of completing their playoffs at a future date. For all intents and purposes, we are now into the off-season, and beginning the consideration of the 2020-21 campaign. Read on, therefore, for some early KHL storylines as we look ahead (with any luck) to this Fall!

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KRS Vanke Rays!

(Image Source)

The season is done, and the Women’s Hockey League has a new champion! KRS Vanke Rays Shenzhen, who joined the league just last summer after a couple of campaigns in the CWHL, finished off a three-game Final sweep of defending champions Agidel Ufa earlier today with a 4-2 victory in the decider. Read on, for a look back at, and some thoughts on, the Final series!

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Sad News

KRS Vanke Rays Shenzhen down Agidel Ufa 3-1 earlier today to take a 1-0 lead in the ZhHL Cup Final, but sadly that was not the biggest women’s hockey news of the day. The tweet above lays it out in start terms; the 2020 senior Women’s World Championship of the top division, scheduled for next month in Halifax and Truro, Canada, has been cancelled due to the situation with the COVID-19 outbreak.

That means, among other things, that the international women’s hockey calendar for the season is finished, at least in terms of World Championships (h/t to @nicktheiihffan). The senior Women’s Worlds for Divisions 1A, 1B, and 2A havey been cancelled for the same reason, while the Div. 2B and Div. 3 tournament have already taken place. The Men’s U18 Worlds in Divisions 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B have also been cancelled, as has the senior men’s Division 4 competition, and the entirety of the Asian Challenge Cup. There are likely more cancellations to come, too, and the IIHF will meet at a later date to decide what to do about the promotion and relegation between the different groups in the cases where that is an issue. A very sad state of affairs for international hockey fans, although under the circumstances it is difficult to be too critical of the IIHF’s decisions (especially because those decisions were made in consultation with public health officials and with the host cities).

It has been reported that the Halifax and Truro will now host the 2021 edition of the senior Women’s Worlds, and that will have a trickle-down effect as well. That tournament, in keeping with the IIHF’s tradition of alternating the tournament between Europe and North America, was expected to be awarded to Ufa, Russia. Now, however, it looks like Ufa’s opportunity to host will be pushed back to 2023 (the 2022 tournament will be superseded by the Olympic Games in China). Nothing 100% confirmed about that yet, and we wait for further developments.

Preview: The Women’s Hockey League Final!

Goalmouth scramble earlier this season between Agidel Ufa and KRS Vanke Rays – that’s Veronika Korzhakova and Polina Luchnikova for Agidel attacking the Vanke Rays net defended by Zhang Shuang and goalie Kimberly Newell. (Image Source)

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, North American time, the 2019-20 Women’s Hockey League championship Final will get underway in the Bashkir city of Ufa. Agidel Ufa, our two-time defending champions, are back for a shot at a third straight title, but they will face very stiff competition in the league’s newcomers, Chinese club KRS Vanke Rays Shenzhen. Read on, for a look at both rosters!

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The KHL Salary Cap, Revisited

Alexei Morozov (right) with the man he replaced as President of the KHL, Dmitri Chernyshenko. (Image Source)

In a post last month on the appointment of Alexei Morozov to be the KHL’s President, I mentioned that one of the first issues he was likely to face in his new job would be a disagreement with the Russian Hockey Federation over the league’s hard salary cap, which will be instituted beginning next season. Well, that disagreement came to the fore late last week, when the FHR reportedly sent a letter to the KHL requesting that they raise the cap from its planned 900 million rubles to 1.3 billion rubles per team per season. And early test for the new President KHL — read on, to find out how, and what, he did!

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