MOSCOW – It was rumoured for several weeks that Dynamo Moscow, one of the most famous brands in hockey, could disappear. Teams from the Russian KHL heavily depend on their rich patrons and Dynamo’s owner didn’t want to pay the bills anymore. The old club is gone but reappeared under the name OHK Dynamo Moscow. OHK stands for “Joint Hockey Club”.
Dynamo Moscow merged with MVD Balashikha, a club from Moscow’s suburbs with money and success. The club made the KHL final and lost to Ak Bars Kazan this week.
Dynamo is the second-most successful club in Russian and Soviet hockey history behind CSKA Moscow. Dynamo is the only Moscow club that has won championships after the break-up of the Soviet Union, winning the Russian title in 1992, 1993, 1995, 2000 and 2005.
The past merits of both clubs will join in OHK Dynamo Moscow after the merger between the former police and KGB team Dynamo and MVD, which stands for Ministry of Internal Affairs and was Dynamo’s little brother in hockey in Soviet times.
Now things have turned and MVD is in the driver’s seat.
The merger is done, the brand “Dynamo Moscow” is rescued, now the problems begin.
“Our famous club HK MVD will be the basis of the creation of a new club,” said Mikhail Tyurkin, the president of MVD Balashikha, who will also serve as president of OHK Dynamo Moscow. “The coaches will be ours, the management will be ours, the players will be ours, the city will be ours, the fans will be ours. We plan to play in Balashikha.”
The once mighty Dynamo to play outside of Moscow? Not all parties agreed about that on Friday afternoon when the merger was made official.
“An historic decision was made today at a meeting with Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov,” KHL president Alexander Medvedev said. “In the coming season OHK Dynamo will play 25 regular-season games and the playoffs at the Ice Palace Megasport (Khodynka) and a specific schedule will be prepared together with the KHL taking into account the occupied dates of the busy arena.”
The arena for 12,000 spectators that was built as the biggest ice arena in Russia for the 2007 IIHF World Championship in Moscow, but has yet to be used for KHL hockey. It was simply not needed because Dynamo only drew 4,689 fans in the regular season and the other Moscow clubs Spartak (3,621) and CSKA (3,559) didn't fare better.
Medvedev also said that a new 12,000-seat arena will be built at Petrovsky Park where the Dynamo football stadium will be rebuilt. He said the arena could be ready for the new club in two years.
It looks like Moscow will have an MVD-managed Dynamo Moscow, not in Balashikha, but in the district the Dynamo sport club belongs to. The Khodynka Arena the team is supposed to play is a ten-minute walk from the Dynamo stadium and the Petrovsky Park, Balashikha can be a one- or two-hour drive.
It was announced that OHK Dynamo will also have a team in the second-tier league, this might be a place for hockey to survive in Balashikha.
The league structure of the KHL remains open until the annual changes in summer will be made. From the 24-team league, the Dynamo-MVD merger kills at least one club while Lada Togliatti might be another club to leave the league because of a huge deficit.
Clubs that were rumoured to join the KHL are Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk, the champion of the second-tier league, Czech second-tier team Hradec Kralove, Vetra Vilnius from Lithuania and Budivelnyk Kyiv from Ukraine. The last two clubs come from other sports – football and basketball, respectively – and sent their applications to Moscow to found a hockey team for the KHL.
The biggest question remains open for all teams: Who will pay the bills?
The “if” and “who” will be solved in the next few weeks when the KHL announces its teams for 2010-2011.