Game over for chemists

Legendary Russian club Khimik Voskresensk goes bankrupt

17.07.2009
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Fans lay roses at the statue of Khimik Voskresensk. Photo: voskresensk.ru / Dmitri Soloviev

VOSKRESENSK, Russia – What do Igor Larionov, Slava Kozlov, Valeri Kamensky, Alexander Ragulin, Dmitri Kvartalnov and Andrei Markov have in common? They all started their careers with Khimik Voskresensk. This week, the club went bankrupt.

Now a huge suburb of Moscow, Voskresensk was a village with heavy industry when its hockey and football clubs were founded in the ‘50s. Three years later, Khimik Voskresensk was promoted to the highest league where they remained for most of the club’s lifetime.

Khimik, with its great players, was able to challenge CSKA Moscow and Dynamo Moscow, which split the Soviet titles amongst themselves. In 1989, they finished in second place, and then in third in 1965, 1970, 1984 and 1990.

In 1989 and 1990, Khimik was among the Soviet teams that toured North America and played 15 games against NHL clubs with a 6W-1T-8L record.

In 1997, Voskresensk also became the first Russian city where the Stanley Cup was presented, thanks to Detroit’s Larionov.

In 2005, the club owners moved the club within the Moscow region to a new arena in Mytishchi – a venue of the 2007 Worlds – where it played under the name Khimik Moskovskaya Oblast and now Atlant Mytishchi.

However, a local group in Voskresensk bought a folding second-tier club to keep Khimik Voskresensk at that level. The club won the second-tier league in 2008 and joined the KHL, but they didn’t cover the immense costs and finished in last place.

Khimik didn’t apply to play in the KHL for 2009-10. They wouldn’t have gotten a green light from the KHL central anyway as players are still waiting for their salaries. The team has been replaced with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg.

The financial crisis has hit several lower division clubs in Russia, and now it seems that the country loses a legendary club that has developed many international stars, just four years after locals rescued the team.

Fan protests didn’t change the situation, nor did Valeri Kamensky’s intention to help the club. The supporters had no other choice than to mourn their team, laying roses at the club’s statue.

The club was entered in the second-tier league but on Wednesday it was reported that it will cease operations due to bankruptcy, after a decision from crisis-hit Mezhregiongaz, which backed the club.

The staff has been dismissed. Now, the people in Voskresensk hope that at least the youth organization can be saved and that they can continue their plans to have a team in the MHL, the new KHL-run junior league. And that the club can maybe return into professional hockey one day.

The MHL team was named Feniks. May it rise like a Phoenix.

MARTIN MERK


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