Thread: KHL Expansion
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02-03-2013, 06:48 PM
  #406
Faterson
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Originally Posted by ult View Post
Didn't Kosice fans made fun of Slovan for joining KHL, before the start of the season? What's with the sudden change of heart? I understand that you're missing the whole rivalry thing and I guess you're looking forward to bashing Kosice for not making playoffs and stuff like that, but wouldn't there be disadvantages for your favorite team? Watering down of the sponsorship and viewership?
No, I can only see positives. I know that from the giant Russia, Slovakia seems microscopic and that including 2 Slovak teams in the KHL might seem pointless, but Eastern Slovakia is really a quite separate region from Bratislava in the Slovak south-west, culturally and in other respects. It would make perfect sense to have both of those regions represented in the KHL. Another distinct Slovak region is Central Slovakia (the current Slovak league leader Zvolen is the best hockey team from there), but we currently lack a KHL-ready hockey arena in Central Slovakia, as well as in Slovakia's "hockey metropolis" Trenčín in the north-west, home of the Hossa brothers, Gáborík, Chára, Demitra and many other Slovak stars. Yeah, many fans from those other Slovak regions are no doubt rooting for Slovan these days, but it will never be "their own team" proper. Slovan Bratislava is not the Slovak national team, although the two currently share many players.

Similarly, there are 2 distinct regions in the Czech Republic: Bohemia and Moravia. (Moravia lies in between Bohemia and Slovakia; the Moravian capital is Brno.) I can guarantee you, ult, that even if Sparta Prague joined the KHL instead of the "artificial" Lev Prague, hockey fans from Moravia would never fully get behind a KHL team located in Prague. Their teams are Kometa Brno (southern Moravia) and Vítkovice (northern Moravia), among others, and it will always remain that way.

Therefore, it would be fantastic to have a KHL division with teams like Sparta Prague, Kometa Brno, Slovan Bratislava, and HC Košice. Each of these 4 teams represents a very distinct region, so the internal rivalries would be amazing. Seen from afar from Russia, this might seem like needless duplication of teams from the same country, but it's not.

It's interesting to note that both Čada (Slovan coach) and Vůjtek (Slovak national team coach, former Yaroslavl coach) are, in fact, Moravian rather than "Czech" coaches. Čada was born in Brno (southern Moravia), while Vůjtek is from Vítkovice/Ostrava (northern Moravia). The relations between Moravians and Slovaks, as neighbours, have traditionally been warmer than between Slovaks and Czechs proper (Czechs from Bohemia). In fact, in villages and regions close to the border between Moravia and Slovakia, the local dialects seem like a mixture of Czech and Slovak, instead of being either of the two languages.

I'm sure people in Russia have no idea about these regional differences and sensibilities. But they are very much relevant when it comes to supporting a hockey team. Teams with "Prague" or "Bratislava" in their name will never be supported in the same way as the Czech or Slovak national teams -- they won't succeed in getting the whole country behind them. At least not with the same intensity as the national teams can do it. Generally, hockey teams from capital cities tend to be unpopular in the rest of the country. I can see something similar on Russian hockey websites -- many Russian fans hurling insults at KHL teams located in Moscow or St. Petersburg.

As to the more remote future, Poland and Slovakia want to submit a joint candidacy for organizing the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. So maybe after Sochi 2014, we'll get to see Tatry 2022. (Tatry being the mountain range on the border between Slovakia and Poland.) Of course, if Slovakia is to co-organize the Olympics, at least one group of the Olympic hockey tournament would take place on Slovak soil. The Slovak Prime Minister has confirmed Slovakia is ready to build a new hockey arena for the Olympic hockey tournament. Poprad, the city at the foot of the Tatras, could be an ideal location. So, we may yet see a KHL return to Poprad in a more distant future, this time to Poprad's own team in a new arena.


Last edited by Faterson: 02-03-2013 at 06:55 PM.
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