KHL to add Czech team, continuing European expansion efforts

The KHL just released the following statement:

The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and Czech club Lion, located in the city of Hradec Kralove, have signed a letter of intent for the club to participate in the KHL's 2010-2011 season.  The letter of intent outlines the regulations and stipulations the club must meet to join the KHL, as well as the club's responsibilities in collaborating with the Czech Republic Ice Hockey Federation to gain approval for joining the KHL.

As a next step, the KHL and Lion have agreed on a deadline of April 1, 2010, for the club to provide all financial guarantees to the KHL for the club to join the league next season.

In December 2009, the feasibility of Lion joining the KHL was ratified by the Hradec Kralove city assembly.   The ice arena that will host Lion's home matches has a seating capacity 7,700.

This makes for an interesting followup to their announcement in November that the league would add a Swedish team in Stockholm as well.

I am by no means an expert on Russian hockey developments, but based on their disappointing results in Vancouver, I have to think that there will be direction from the very highest levels of the country's leadership to ensure that they fare much, much better in the Sochi Games of 2014. Towards that end, I would expect the KHL to ramp up its efforts to attract more NHL talent to come and  play in the KHL to elevate the level of competition in their home league.

By adding teams in Sweden and the Czech Republic, they can extend those efforts beyond Russian nationals, to draw in more European players in general. Hradec Kralove is situated about 70 miles east of Prague, the Czech Republic's capital city. Might that provide an attractive situation for young Czech players who might prefer to ply their trade closer to home?

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