Lockout Alternatives #2 – KHL

We’re now in the midst of the third week of LOCKOUT 12/13 and today it’s expected that the NHL will announce the cancellation of regular season games. How many is yet to be determined, but the way things are going it won’t matter how many they cancel now as it’s likely even more are on the horizon.

Last week we started our look at alternatives to the NHL with a feature on the next best league in North America, the AHL. This time we’re going to tell you why you should watch arguably the best non-NA league, the KHL.

The Kontinental Hockey League is a relatively new league as its only been around since 2008. However, it has quickly made a name for itself by luring some NHL caliber players to play there through high salaries comparable to what they’d make in the NHL or better. Though the league is mostly comprised of Russian born players, it has been able to attract players from other areas as well and currently holds a roughly 65/35 split of Russian to non-Russian. The most notable Russian to stick with the KHL is Alexander Radulov. Though he did return to the NHL for a brief time just last season, many believe it was merely a negotiation tactic to get the KHL to pay more to keep him (and they did).

But why should you watch the KHL during the lockout? Here are the top 3 reasons…

  1. Star Power. Due to the lockout many notable NHL players are flocking to the KHL. For the most part it has been the Russians, such as Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Evgeni Malkin, taking advantage of the opportunity to play in their homeland. However, more and more non-Russians are also joining the KHL as the lockout drags on, likely due to the financial benefits it can provide. Evander Kane and Pekka Rinne are the two most notable at this point, but there is constant speculation that others will follow suit soon enough, maybe even Sidney Crosby. No other league will be able to match the star power of the KHL during the lockout, so if that’s what you’re looking for they’ll have you covered.
  2. Availability. There appears to be tons of legal ways to watch KHL games online, with our personal favourite being the live feeds available via http://www.laola1.tv. Not only that, ESPN has picked up broadcast rights to the games in the US and a deal is likely in the works for Canada. The KHL is already getting some coverage on daily sports shows and that’s only going to increase going forward. Finally, two official KHL games will be played this coming January at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Get your tickets now!
  3. Competition. The league was already highly competitive before the influx of NHL talent, but with that added boost it will likely be the most competitive league available this season. Having only a 52 game regular season schedule adds to the importance of each match and the playoff format is largely identical to the NHL.

The KHL season got underway September 4th, so if you’re planning to tune in you’ll be a little behind. Don’t let that stop you though, as there is plenty of great KHL action available to help dull the pain of no NHL for the foreseeable future.