Places to Go, People to See: The KHL Schedule in 2019-20
The 2019-20 KHL season is taking shape, and today some big pieces fell into place as the league released the full schedule for the upcoming campaign. While much of schedule format remains similar to 2018-19, there have been a few little changes here and there. Read on, as we take a look a look at the shape of the upcoming KHL season!
The overall format of the season has not particularly changed; as last season, each team will play 62 games, with the season running from the start of September to the end of February (the playoffs will begin on March 1st). The breaks in the schedule remain as well; there will be pauses for the national team to play on the Euro Hockey Tour in November, December, and February. The league will stop for a few days at (new calendar) New Year’s as well, and in January for the All-Star Week festivities. That event will take place this time in Moscow, at Dynamo’s brand-new VTB Arena, and will include the All-Star Games for the Women’s Hockey League (January 11th), the junior MHL (January 12th), and the KHL itself (January 19th).
There are a couple of small but interesting changes from last season; one is that the KHL has (mostly) capped road trips at a maximum of three games. There are a few exceptions to this, mostly in the early part of the season; Traktor Chelyabinsk will have an eight-game trip in September, although it involves stops in only five cities, and Kunlun Red Star Beijing will likewise play eight games in a row on the road in late September and early October, making the full eight stops along way. Torpedo also open their season with four games on the road, but in general the trips will be short in 2019-20. The league is also playing up its big rivalries this coming season. Ak Bars Kazan and Salavat Yulaev Ufa will meet each other six times in the “Green Derby,” as will SKA St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow in the “Army Derby.”
There is one other change that is causing some concern among KHL executives; unlike in previous seasons, not all KHL teams will end the regular season on the same day. Metallurg Magnitgorsk VP Gennady Velichkin was among those expressing some worry about the fact that some teams will have a couple more days of rest before the playoffs start; however, each team will have at least four days off, so the effect should not be too drastic.
There are some neutral- or alternative-site games scheduled for 2019-20, as in previous seasons:
- Switzerland will host a “Green Derby” game, as Salavat Yulaev Ufa take on Ak Bars Kazan in Davos, Switzerland, on December 23rd. This is part of the KHL’s “World Games” program, which last season took the league to Austria and Switzerland. Salavat Yulaev will be the nominal host team for the Davos game, as they prepare to represent the KHL at the late-December Spengler Cup in the same city.
- Jokerit Helsinki will make what is becoming an annual trip to Estonia, as they trek across the Gulf of Finland to Tallinn’s Tondiraba Jäähall for games against Severstal Cherepovets on January 10th and 11th.
- Barys Nur-Sultan will head to the Kazakh city of Almaty in September. At the 12000-seat Almaty Arena, they will take on Spartak Moscow on September 17th, and Traktor Chelyabinsk on September 20th.
- And Kunlun Red Star Beijing will open their home schedule with six games in Shenzhen, in China’s south-east. Between September 3rd and 15th, KRS will play two games apiece at the 18000-seat Shenzhen Dayun Arena against Salavat Yulaev, Barys, and Traktor. Kunlun Red Star then depart on the above-mentioned eight-game road-trip; they will not make their first appearance in Beijing until October 9th, versus Neftekhimik.
The decision to make the Green Derby part of the World Games is bound to raise a few eyebrows, even with the teams meeting five more times this coming season in their respective “proper” homes. The KHL instituted its World Games series last season, in Austria and Switzerland, but the matches met with mixed fortunes in terms of both on-ice quality and attendance. Giving a huge rivalry game to the series is the league’s not-unreasonable attempt to solve both those problems in one go, and it is clear that the World Games are very important element in the KHL’s European strategy. However, it does deprive a Russian city (Ufa in this case) of a guaranteed big gate at home, as well as making it difficult for longtime fans of both teams to attend the game. A double-edged sword, in other words, and we’ll see how it works out.
The schedule will open on September 1st, with the lone game being the traditional match-up between last season’s finalists; in 2019-20, that means that CSKA Moscow host Avangard Omsk Oblast in Russia’s capital. The rest of the league starts to get going on September 2nd, and here’s a list of each team’s opener and home opener for the 2019-20 season:
|Admiral Vladivostok||Sept. 3 @ Barys||Sept. 10 vs. Traktor|
|Ak Bars Kazan||Sept. 3 @ CSKA||Sept. 13 vs. Metallurg|
|Amur Khabarovsk||Sept. 3 @ Sibir||Sept. 7 vs. Traktor|
|Avangard Omsk Oblast||Sept. 1 @ CSKA||Sept. 6 vs. Severstal|
|Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg||Sept. 2 vs. Severstal||Sept. 2 vs. Severstal|
|CSKA Moscow||Sept. 1 vs. Avangard||Sept. 1 vs. Avangard|
|Barys Nur-Sultan||Sept. 3 vs. Admiral||Sept. 3 vs. Admiral|
|Dinamo Minsk||Sept. 2 vs. Neftekhimik||Sept. 2 vs. Neftekhimik|
|Dinamo Riga||Sept. 2 vs. Spartak||Sept. 2 vs. Spartak|
|Dynamo Moscow||Sept. 2 vs. Torpedo||Sept. 2 vs. Torpedo|
|Jokerit Helsinki||Sept. 3 vs. Avangard||Sept. 3 vs. Avangard|
|Kunlun Red Star Beijing||Sept. 3 vs. Salavat Yulaev (Shenzhen)||Sept. 3 vs. Salavat Yulaev (Shenzhen)|
Oct. 9 vs. Neftekhimik (Beijing)
|Lokomotiv Yaroslavl||Sept. 4 vs. Spartak||Sept. 4 vs. Spartak|
|Metallurg Magnitogorsk||Sept. 2 vs. SKA||Sept. 2 vs. SKA|
|Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk||Sept. 2 @ Dinamo Minsk||Sept. 9 vs. Dinamo Riga|
|Salavat Yulaev Ufa||Sept. 3 @ Kunlun Red Star (Shenzhen)||Sept. 12 vs. Avtomobilist|
|Severstal Cherepovets||Sept. 2 @ Avtomobilist||Sept. 9th vs. CSKA|
|Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast||Sept. 3 vs. Amur||Sept. 3 vs. Amur|
|SKA St. Petersburg||Sept. 2 @ Metallurg||Sept. 10 vs. Sibir|
|HK Sochi||Sept. 4 vs. Neftekhimik||Sept. 4 vs. Neftekhimik|
|Spartak Moscow||Sept. 2 @ Dinamo Riga||Sept. 8 vs. Dinamo Minsk|
|Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod Oblast||Sept. 2 @ Dynamo Moscow||Sept. 11 vs. CSKA|
|Traktor Chelyabinsk||Sept. 2 vs. Vityaz||Sept. 2 vs. Vityaz|
|Vityaz Moscow Oblast||Sept. 2 @ Traktor||Sept. 9 vs. Dynamo Moscow|
And that’s it for this time! Tomorrow or Saturday there will be a women’s hockey update, with some potential big news from the Women’s Hockey League. And early next week we start in upon the team-by-team KHL previews for the upcoming season. Thank you for reading!