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11-11-2008, 10:23 AM
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KHL Expenditures, Sustainability, and the Looming Economic Crisis

A straight up assessment of the KHL by Igor Larionov - in Toronto for his induction into the HHOF.

The Continental Hockey League, considered to be the greatest threat to NHL stability since the World Hockey Association, is undergoing growing pains in its inaugural season.

Clubs in the Russian league, commonly known by its Russian initials, KHL, have missed payroll and there's uncertainty about its smaller franchises. Worries are also mounting about the possible impact of the world economic crisis on its well-moneyed backers, many of them who rely on high world oil prices for their wealth.

Larionov said the economics of the KHL make little sense today, given that some teams in Moscow draw as few as 1,000 or 2,000 fans a game and ticket prices are modest — the equivalent of $5, $10 or $15. At that rate, he does not believe the salaries on offer last season — as much as $10-million to Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin — are sustainable over the long term. Malkin's former team in Russia, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, is one of several clubs struggling to meet its payroll commitments.

"I ask myself: How long is it going to last?" Larionov said. "You want to be wise economically. You want to get ticket sales and apply to the salaries. Now, we have great support from big companies and business people, but how long is it going to last? That is why we have to sit down and talk."

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