Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hockey In Russia

     Hockey was introduced to Russia during the Soviet era. Even though it was relatively new to Russia their national team dominated the world. They won 7 gold medals at the Olympics and 19 World Championships from 1954 and 1991. Once the Soviet Era ended though there was a 15 year drought for gold for both the Olympics and the World Championship, and the country's main hockey league, the Soviet Championship League, turned into the International Hockey League. During this drought the NHL was starting to attract a lot of Russian skaters as well so hockey was at a downfall in Russia. The International Hockey League only lasted from 1992-1996 and was replaced by the Russian Superleague. The Russian Superleague or RSL for short was considered the second best league in the world to the NHL. This league lasted until 2008.
     2008 was a big turn around year for hockey in Russia. It started to establish itself as a dominant force for hockey in the world again by winning back to back gold medals at the World Championship, and it was ranked as the number one hockey team in the world, overtaking Canada. During this time the Kontinental Hockey League formed and absorbed the teams from the RSL and started to branch off into different countries, adding one team from each Latvia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Since then many expansions have been made and the league now is in central Europe.
      Although a lot of progress has been made in the league it hasn't been so easy. Starting the fourth season one of teams, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, located in the city of Yaroslavl located about 150 miles northeast of Moscow, was in a horrible plane crashed that killed all the coaches and players except for two who weren't on the flight. The team didn't play for a year but did come back in 2012 with a whole new roster and coaching staff.
      In 2012 the NHL, still considered the best hockey league in the world, had a lockout which forced it's players to look towards other leagues which caused players to look at the KHL. Over 40 players joined the KHL during the lockout. The league even created a rule that no team could have over 3 NHL players to their team.
      The league currently is going strong and looks to have a promising season.

No comments: