- © RIA Novosti. Alexei Philippov
© RIA Novosti. Alexei Philippov
MOSCOW, March 19 (R-Sport) - The KHL on Wednesday announced the next stage of its drive to expand the Russia-based hockey league, assimilating teams from the Olympic host city of Sochi, the central city of Tolyatti and Finnish club Jokerit.
Jokerit was confirmed last year as leaving the Finnish league to join the Kontinental Hockey League for the 2014-15 season, the first Nordic team to arrive in the competition, after a group of Russian businessmen bought a controlling stake in the club.
But this is the first time that Alexander Medvedev, the KHL's president and CEO, stated with certainty that the Dolphin Sochi franchise would also be entered into the competition alongside two-time champion Lada Tolyatti, which is back from a four-year break after going insolvent.
"We can speak about the entry of the Sochi club, Lada and Jokerit as a fact," Medvedev said.
He added there would be an expansion draft to fill the rosters of the newcomers for next season, modeled on the one used for this year's rookie Admiral Vladivostok, which reached the playoffs in its first season.
But while the league gains three new teams and one new country - taking the competition across a ninth nation - it may lose one storied club in Spartak Moscow.
Spartak has been experiencing serious financial problems since December, when its main sponsor Investbank collapsed and had to ask the league to provide a loan in order to get to its road games for the rest of the season.
Medvedev said "the issue of Spartak is currently suspended," and the final list of participants would be known by the end of April.