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Why the KHL pulled out of Brooklyn

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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It's been an interesting week for Brooklyn hockey. The New York Islanders will be playing in Barclays Center in 2015; and as of Friday morning, the Kontinental Hockey League won't be playing there in 2013.

The KHL has moved the two games it had scheduled in Brooklyn for Jan. 19 and 20, 2013, back to Russia. They would have featured Alex Ovechkin and Dynanmo Moscow vs. Ilya Kovalchuk and SKA St. Petersburg, all but guaranteeing big crowds and massive media coverage if the NHL lockout was still in effect.

But the KHL announced on its website that the games would be shifted back to St. Petersburg on Jan. 20 and Moscow on Jan. 21.

From RIA Novosti:

The KHL said that the continuing lockout in the NHL made it difficult to host the games.

"Meeting the wishes of thousands of Russian hockey fans, considering the interests of the teams Dynamo Moscow and SKA and due to the lack of certainty with the NHL lockout length, the KHL decided to change the dates of games between the teams scheduled for January 19 and 20," the league said in a website statement.

Why didn't the games work out in Brooklyn?

Puck Daddy's Dmitry Chesnokov offers this analysis:

I don't see how this move could be viewed as good from any angle.

They had the opportunity to capitalize on the interest that has been generated about the KHL in the last few months. They had a chance to showcase their product beyond the sporadic TV highlights and YouTube clips. But they chose not to.  A very shortsighted move that will move the KHL back to obscurity once the NHL lockout is over.

When will they get another chance like that? In another 8 years? Or ever?

This was a power struggle move with the new ownership of Dynamo and SKA respectively. They viewed things differently than the KHL itself.

The League couldn't convince the teams, who had the change of heart.

The games would have continued to build the KHL's momentum stateside, as the League has been featured on ESPN2 and recently announced more televised games on MSG Network.

That said: How would these games have been viewed if the NHL was back in action in January, with Kovalchuk back with the New Jersey Devils and Nicklas Backstrom back with the Washington Capitals? (Who knows about Ovechkin, what with the proposed contract annulment and all …) Would it have been worth the effort for the KHL?

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