MOSCOW – The Kontinentalnaya Hokkeynaya Liga announced that it has ousted Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg from the league because of a lack of financial guarantees. They will be replaced by Khimik Voskresensk.
Avtomobilist was one of four expansion teams in the KHL and hoped to be back in the highest Russian league for the first time in 12 years. But those hopes ended yesterday when the league announced the team’s exclusion. Avtomobilist was short of the necessary funds after the regional government decided not to help the club with its financing. According to the Russian media, it was originally agreed that half of the budget would be covered by government funds, but after the budget rose from 300 million to 550 million rubles ($24m), the government announced that it could not afford the difference.
Stand-by club Khimik Voskresensk had more luck. Boris Gromov, the governor of the administrative zone around the city of Moscow, gave green light and financial guarantees that Khimik could join the KHL. Khimik is one of the oldest hockey clubs in the country and was among to the best Russian teams during the Soviet era. Hockey greats like Valeri Kamensky, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Igor Larionov, Andrei Markov, Alexander Ragulin and German Titov came out of the Khimik organisation. Kamensky and Titov ended their careers in the Khimik jersey during the 2004-2005 lockout.
The club was playing in the Russian Superliga until 2005 when the owners moved it to the new Arena Mytishchi, a 2007 World Championship venue. Khimik Voskresensk regrouped in the second-tier Vysshaya Liga by buying the licence of struggling Kristall Elektrostal and won the league this year.
Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg is expected to continue in the Vysshaya Liga.