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12-10-2012, 04:22 PM
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NPR: "Russia's Hockey League Glad to Have NHL-Lockout Orphans"

National Public Radio posted this story today Russia's Hockey League Glad to Have NHL-Lockout Orphans

Ovechkin plays for Dynamo Moscow, the team that gave him his professional start. He's joined by his Washington Capitals teammate, Center Nicklas Backstrom.

They've made a happy man of Andrei Safronov, Dynamo's general manager: He calls Ovechkin "our hero," and says that he and Backstrom have been playing the kind of spectacular hockey that draws crowds.
The problem so far is that the crowds still haven't really been drawn. Ovechkin complained on his blog:

...about what he sees as the lack of interest in hockey in Moscow. He said Dynamo has been playing to unfilled arenas, and said he's still hoping to get back to Washington in time to lead the Capitals to the Stanley Cup.

Fans in Russia say it's true their league is still building a fan base.


Many clubs have been struggling to amp up their attendance.

Fan Aleck Shakoff says the NHL stars lend some excitement to the season, but he said the league is gaining momentum, even without the outside talent.

"Maybe not this year, but maybe in a few years, of course we will be able to compete with NHL stars," he said. "Definitely. You'll see."
If the KHL were stronger, it would provide more pressure on the owners to get a deal done. However, it seems that by ignoring the threat of competition, they are helping to strengthen it anyway. Thus far the KHL has simply provided a place for some players to go during the lockout - not much different than the Swedish or Swiss leagues. By the time the next collective bargaining agreement rolls around, the KHL could be much stronger. This may be the last chance the owners have the leverage to shove their agenda down the players throats and may be why the pushed for so many concessions from the get go.

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