The KHL is considering contracting multiple teams following financial pressure of Russia’s recession.
The Associated Press reports that due to the low price of oil and the ongoing recession, the companies that fund Russian’s pro league are getting pushed into depth. KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko acknowledged potentially axing some franchises.
“I think it’s possible that the league could contract if the board takes that decision,” Chernyshenko said.
The Russian dollar being weak is old news, but expected growth outside Russia hasn’t happened like the KHL has hoped. As AP reports, the Chinese expansion team HC Kunlun Red Star has seen attendance dip below 1,000 fans a game. The number simply isn’t good enough to justify keeping the team there.
The KHL contracting would cause an interesting domino effect. Certainly, more players would come stateside to join the pro ranks of the AHL and ECHL if the KHL wasn’t an option. Conversely, contraction would bring more talent to international leagues in Finland, Sweden and Germany.
The league is in trouble, so contracting a handful of the 29 teams is a reasonable solution to trimming down debt. For those fans who might lose their favorite team, it’s unfortunate news, but for the KHL to continue to exist, some change needs to occur.