Dmitry Chernyshenko on the KHL in 2017-18 and Beyond.


KHL President Dmitry Chernyshenko (l.) with Gennady Timchenko, Chairman of the league’s Board of Governors.  (Image Source)

As the 2017-18 KHL season moves through its opening stages, league President Dmitry Chernyshenko sat down with reporters from Kommersant for a lengthy interview this past week.  And I am very pleased and grateful to say that we have a translation of the entire interview, courtesy of frequent guest-poster Tomáš Vorčák.  Tomáš introduced us to the KHL’s new strategic plan a couple of months ago, and that topic is much at the forefront of the Chernyshenko interview (you can read a little more about the plan here as well).  Read on!

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Ak Bars Kazan in 2017-18

At about this time last year, we were wondering whether Ak Bars could recover from a disappointing 2015-16 campaign, and how their famously conservative coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov would handle a roster that suddenly was full of youth and skill.  Asked and answered on both of those, as Tatarstan’s “big” club surged back up the standings, ousted arch-arch-rivals Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the first round of the playoffs, and then made it all the way to the final four.  Ak Bars began the summer signing season by bringing back a club legend… and that was when things got interesting.  Read on!

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Dinamo Minsk in 2017-18

The 2016-17 season was a pretty good one for the KHL’s representatives from Belarus, with an eighth-place finish overall, and a return to the playoffs after missing out in 2015-16.  But the off-season was somewhat fraught, “highlighted” by the unexpected resignation of coach Craig Woodcroft in late June and by the departures of several key players.  In the end, it was not the rumoured Eduard Zankovets who came in to replace Woodcroft, but Gordie Dwyer, the former NHLer who has a couple of seasons of KHL coaching experience in charge of Medveščak Zagreb.  Can he sort things out in Minsk?  Read on…

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Early Rumblings

The 2017-18 KHL season is but a day old (SKA St. Petersburg defeated CSKA Moscow 4-2 in yesterday’s opener), but already we have an interesting development in one team’s front office.  Kunlun Red Star Beijing fired general manager Vladimir Krechin today, just hours before the team is to take on HK Sochi in its first game of the new campaign.  Krechin had been the Kunlun Red Star GM since March, when he moved from the position of sports director at the club, and he oversaw an off-season that featured massive changes in the team’s roster, particularly at forward.  And now he is out, to be replaced, intriguingly, by Kunlun Red Star head coach Mike Keenan (Keenan will stay on as coach, as well).

Kunlun Red Star cited “serious miscalculations in his work” as the reason for Krechin’s dismissal, which of course immediately raises the question of what those errors were.  We really don’t know, although the team did make an odd move this past week when it placed Richard Gynge on waivers, apparently for the purpose of cutting him entirely.  The 30-year-old Swede was expected (by me at least, although I don’t think I was alone in that) to be one of Kunlun Red Star’s top scorers this season, having tied for sixth in the league in goals last time around with 24.  Something obviously went very wrong for him to have brought in and then cut loose before the regular season even starts.

Russian hockey journalist Pavel Lysenkov, a pretty good source on these matters, also raised the possibility of a power-struggle between Krechin and Keenan, with the latter now emerging victorious.  The exact reasons for Krechin’s firing, and its odd timing, remain a mystery, as does the effect this early-season shuffle will have on Kunlun Red Star’s on-ice fortunes in 2017-18. Further bulletins, per the old saying, as events warrant.


Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in 2017-18

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod have been in an interesting position the last few years: not Gagarin Cup contenders, but a very difficult handful for any team in the league.  2016-17 was no exception to this, as the post-season was visited for a fourth straight time, and though Torpedo were dismissed in five first-round games by Dynamo Moscow, four of those games went to overtime.  And then, this off-season, pretty much the entire roster departed and was replaced.  Was this upheaval for the better, or for the worse?  Read on…

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Questions, Questions

Where we left off…

It’s here!  And by “it,” I of course mean the 2017-18 KHL season, the league’s tenth campaign, which begins on Monday when defending regular season champions CSKA Moscow visit the incumbent Gagarin Cup winners SKA St. Petersburg.  Read on, for a quick introduction (in question and answer format!) to the new season, and a handful of storylines to follow.

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Traktor Chelyabinsk in 2017-18


(Image Source — note the special 70th-anniversary logo worn by Traktor last season)

2016-17 saw Traktor rebound nicely from missing the playoffs the previous season; the Chelyabinsk side posted their best campaign since 2012-13 with a fourth-place finish in the East Conference, although they were punted out in the first post-season round by Barys Astana (an upset, if only a mild one).  So, can Traktor build from that good season, and climb back towards the glorious results they posted in the KHL’s early years?  Read on…

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Vityaz Moscow Oblast in 2017-18

They did it!  After all the years of goonery, failure, and general despair, Vityaz Moscow Oblast shot 13 places up the standings and made the post-season for the first time in league history in 2016-17.  Only the churlish could have begrudged the little team from Podolsk, in the shadow of the capital city, its long-awaited playoff appearance, and few of the team’s fans likely minded too much that it ended in a brutal first-round sweep at the hands of SKA St. Petersburg.  They did it!  Can they do it again?  Read on…

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Previewing More Previews

Apologies for the silence this week — family visiting and a bit of a brain break took priority.  However, we resume with the previews tomorrow (and yes, they will extend a little bit into the start of the season, but no matter).  Also other interesting things to come.

Jokerit Helsinki in 2017-18

What happened?  After finishing third in the KHL in 2015-16, the team’s second consecutive top-five finish since joining up in 2014, Jokerit Helsinki plummeted to twelfth in 2016-17, barely making the playoffs.  And their post-season stay was not a long one, ending after a four-game first-round sweep at the hands of CSKA Moscow.  So what went wrong, and what has been done to fix it?  Read on…

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