Russia’s new hockey league

The World

In this working class neighborhood of Moscow, people love hockey and their home grown hockey stars. But it’s not easy for kids here to watch those stars because the Russian play far away for the Washington Capitols. What’s best for so many Russian and European plays is to go to North America where the big hockey money is, at least until now. Russia has decided to take a shot directly at the NHL. Tonight the Continental Hockey League is starting: it has 24 teams and an array of brand, new slick arenas as well as rich owners and businessmen who are ready to pay players top dollar. The league now boasts dozens of former NHL players who have returned home. This writer says it’s only a matter of time before the league draws the NHL’s Russian reserves. Increasingly, those who headed West seeking their fortune are going east again. The undisputed star of the league is Jagr who left Madison Square Garden to play in Siberia. He says he likes what the league is doing. Still the NHL is already complaining because players aren’t honoring their contracts. Jagr doesn’t feel bad for those owners in America at all. Everyone know there’s a lot at stake here because both leagues are eyeing expansion into Europe and even Asia. Jagr’s coach, a Canadian man, says the NHL better watch out. If Russia’s newfound wealth survives the economic crisis, it’ll not only be good for Russian hockey and the players, it will also nurture Russian pride.

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