MOSCOW – The Russian Kontinental Hockey League announced its new schedule, divisions and two regular season games that will be played in New York.
The league grows to a record number of 26 teams after having Lokomotiv Yaroslavl back and adding teams from its periphery.
Lokomotiv will be back after the entire team was wiped out in the airplane tragedy last September on the way to the season opener in Minsk. The club continued with its junior team and built up a new team that joined the second-tier league VHL during last season.
Next September “Loko” will stage its comeback in Russia’s elite league starting with a road trip in the east with games in Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk and Novokuznetsk before having its first home game on 16 September against Atlant Mytishi.
The KHL season will open with one game held on 4 September, a rematch of the 2011 final series between defending champion Dynamo Moscow and Avangard Omsk. Two games follow the day after with Amur Khabarovsk vs. Atlant Mytishi and the Moscow derby CSKA vs. Spartak, and 11 games will be played on 6 September.
No games will be played on 7 September in commemoration of the Yaroslavl airplane tragedy.
The regular season with 676 games ends on 17 February. The playoffs will start on 20 February with the conference quarter-finals and the best-of-seven final series between the conference winners is scheduled for 7-19 April.
The KHL also announced that the All-Star Game will be held 12 and 13 January in Chelyabinsk.
Click here for the full schedule (PDF, in Russian)
Apart from Lokomotiv’s return there have been more changes mainly in the western part of the KHL area. Lev Poprad quits the Slovak resort town and moves to the Czech capital of Prague. Slovan Bratislava from Slovakia and Ukraine’s Donbass Donetsk also join the KHL.
Apart from Poprad disappearing from the KHL map all teams from last season were confirmed including “tough-guy team” Vityaz Chekhov as well as Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg and Metallurg Novokuznetsk, two Eastern Conference teams that made the headlines with financial problems in the last few months.
The most western premiere, however, will happen in the midst of the season when two top teams travel to the United States. Dynamo Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg will play two regular-season games in Brooklyn, New York, on 19 and 20 January 2013.
The venue for these games will be the 14,500-seat Barclays Center. The arena will be opened later this year and will host the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, formerly known as New Jersey Nets.
It will be the first time Russian clubs play regular-season games in North America and the first time Russian clubs will play on the continent since the winter of 1990/1991 when Dynamo Moscow toured through Canada and the U.S. along with CSKA Moscow and Khimik Voskresensk.
This series of 18 games included one match at New York’s Madison Square Garden in which CSKA defeated the New York Rangers 6-1 on 30 December 1990.
KHL – Teams and Divisions 2012/2013
Bobrov Division: Vityaz Chekhov, Dynamo Moscow, Dinamo Riga (LAT), Lev Prague (CZE), Slovan Bratislava (SVK), SKA St. Petersburg, Donbass Donetsk (UKR)
Tarasov Division: Atlant Mytishi, Dynamo Minsk (BLR), Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Severstal Cherepovets, Spartak Moscow, Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod, CSKA Moscow
Kharlamov Division: Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, Ak Bars Kazan, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, Traktor Chelyabinsk, Yugra Khanty-Mansisk
Chernyshyov Division: Avangard Omsk, Amur Khabarovsk, Barys Astana (KAZ), Metallurg Novokuznetsk, Salavat Yulayev Ufa, Sibir Novosibirsk