putin pushes for league expansion opponents expect to be poisoned

I agree with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and not just because I'm on a strict no-poison diet -- and my doctor says I should avoid having bullets shot into my head right now. (See: Alexander Litvinenko, Anna Politkovskaya.

I agree with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and not just because I’m on a strict no-poison diet—and my doctor says I should avoid having bullets shot into my head right now. (See: Alexander Litvinenko, Anna Politkovskaya.)

The former KGB agent took time away from his busy day of installing economic reforms and having journalists silenced to voice his support of expanding the Kontinental Hockey League west to include non-Soviet nations, thereby becoming a “pan-European league.”

According to the Interfax news agency, Putin listed Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as possible candidates.

Those familiar with recent history might suppose Russia will use hockey fights as a pretense to invade countries or that natural gas pipelines will be cut off to countries whose teams defeat Russian squads in important games.

Don’t be silly, that probably wouldn’t happen. Probably.

Despite my reassuring use of the word ‘probably’—based on two Russian history courses I occasionally attended in university—some are likely still hesitant to cross sticks with the Red Menace.

Rest assured, Putin said the league would be run “without any administrative domination,” which is even more comforting when you forget how only four European nations were in his list of countries.

Currently, the KHL has 24 teams, counting three non-Russian federation teams from Belarus, Latvia and Kazakhstan.

The way I see it, the more countries involved in any league is a good thing. It can be good for relations, economies and, more importantly, it can make regular season games seem much more important.

It could also cause a small tourism boom in places outside of Moscow and Kiev, like when Siberia became the most popular vacation spot for Russians during Joseph Stalin’s rule.

However, the KHL should pull a Peter the Great and open the league to more outside players.

Currently Russian teams in the KHL are allowed only five foreign players on the roster and only four can play in a game. Foreign goalies also have restrictions on total seasonal ice time.

To be comparable to the NHL, and to balance the league, any such restrictions must be sent to the gulag.

Also, the KHL should consider the long-term possibility of merging with another league, such as the Eastern European Hockey League. But that would be highly complicated, so they shouldn’t be rushin’ into things.

Contact Tom Patrick at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Ken Anderson’s Sun and Moon model sculpture sits in the snow as he carves away at the real life sculpture behind Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival in Whitehorse on Feb. 21, 2018. Yukon Rendezvous weekend kicks off today with a series of outdoor, virtual and staged events. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Rendezvous snowpad, live music and fireworks this weekend

A round-up of events taking place for the 2021 Rendezvous weekend

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. The proposed Atlin Hydro Expansion project is moving closer to development with a number of milestones reached by the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership and Yukon Energy over the last several months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Atlin hydro project progresses

Officials reflect on milestones reached

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read