KHL stays at 24 teams

Avtomobilist joins KHL, Khimik excluded

16.06.2009
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Russian champion Ak Bars Kazan and the other KHL teams will play a team with again 24 teams but lower budgets. Photo: Kontinental Hockey League

MOSCOW – At a meeting of the KHL Board of Directors on Tuesday, the league decided on the structure for next season. The number of teams will stay at 24.

Khimik Voskresensk is out of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League next season due to debts and the lack of financial guarantees. Players and coaches are still waiting to get the rest of their salaries from the last season.

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg has been added as a new member instead. The team wanted to join the league last season, but ran out of money before the pre-season games began. This time, they seemed to be ready. Czech U20 national team coach Marek Sykora was named the new head coach for the team that finished second in the second-tier league.

The conferences and divisions will be allocated geographically instead of by a draw. Those divisions are as follows:

Western Conference

Division Tarasov: Dynamo Moscow, CSKA Moscow, Spartak Moscow, SKA St. Petersburg, Dinamo Riga (Latvia), Dynamo Minsk (Belarus).

Division Kharlamov: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Atlant Mytishchi, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, Severstal Cherepovets, MVD Balashikha, Vityaz Chekhov.

Eastern Conference

Division Chernyshev: Ak Bars Kazan, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Traktor Chelyabinsk, Lada Togliatti, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg.

Division Bobrov: Avangard Omsk, Salavat Yulayev Ufa, Barys Astana (Kazakhstan), Sibir Novosibirsk, Amur Khabarovsk, Metallurg Novokuznetsk.

Each team will have two home and two away games with opponents from its division, and one home and one away game against each other team, for a total 56 games in the regular season.

The Russian champion will be determined by the Gagarin Cup playoffs. Silver and bronze medals (to the better ranked semi-final loser) will also be awarded. All titles are also open to the three foreign teams.

The best eight teams from each conference will be qualified for the conference quarterfinals, which will a best-of-five. The conference semi-finals, the conference finals and the KHL final series between the conference winners will be a best-of-seven. While the playoffs were mixed, the KHL switched to the NHL format as they did in other aspects as the entry draft and salary cap.

The KHL schedule will be announced on June 30.

The league also reacted to the financial crisis and lowered the salary cap and salary floor. The salary cap will be 620m rubles ($20m) and the salary floor 200m rubles ($6.4), which is down by 17%.

The minimum wage for a player will be 300,000 rubles ($9,600) per season for the first team, which consists of 25 players, and 80,000 rubles ($2,600) for players assigned to a club in the second-tier league (no more than five players) or the own junior team (25 players).

The fine for exceeding the salary cap will be 300% of the exceeding amount.

The KHL allows five imports (maximum one goalkeeper) per team.

50 percent of the regular-season games and all playoff games will be officiated with the four-man system.

MARTIN MERK


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