ASTANA – At an executive meeting of the Kazakh Ice Hockey Federation, it was unanimously decided to create a domestic league with full participation of Kazakh clubs for the 2009-2010 season. It was a historic decision as the professional teams from the country used to play in Russian leagues.
At the moment, five Kazakh clubs play at different levels in Russia with the Kazakhs paying for the travel, catering and accommodation of all Russian teams on their road trips to Kazakhstan.
While the teams were earilier fully engaged in their campaigns in Russia, an all-Kazakh tournament usually determined the national champion. This tournament ended after the Russian season. This 'double-play' will now come to an end.
“It is not appropriate to throw millions out of the window to strengthen somebody else’s league in the crisis,” federation’s president Askar Mamin said. “Of course, it will be a painful transition but in a year or two, everything will look differently. It is a good opportunity to start a new league now.”
While teams like Kazzinc-Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk or Sary-Arka Karaganda of the second-tier Russian league Vysshaya Liga will return to domestic hockey next season, KHL team Barys Astana will be the only Kazakh club to remain in the Russian system.