Thursday, March 20, 2014

D Ian White (Swift Current, 2000-04) has been released by Traktor Chelyabinsk (Russia, KHL) by mutual agreement. He had one assist in 10 games.
During the last couple of days, the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) has found itself mentioned in areas one imagines it would prefer to stay out of.
In an op-ed piece in Wednesday’s New York Times, Alexey Navalny, who ran for mayor of Moscow in September and got 30 per cent of the vote, writes about who should have their assets frozen, and the first three people he names are the three owners of Jokerit Helsinki and Hartwall Areena (Gennady Timchenko and the Rotenbergs, Arkady and Boris). It's a good read but here are the applicable paragraphs.
“Instead, Western nations could deliver a serious blow to the luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by the Kremlin’s cronies who shuttle between Russia and the West. This means freezing the oligarchs’ financial assets and seizing their property.
“Such sanctions should primarily target Mr. Putin’s inner circle, the Kremlin mafia who pillage the nation’s wealth, including Gennady N. Timchenko, head of the Volga Group; Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, influential businessmen and former judo sparring partners of Mr. Putin; Yuri V. Kovalchuk, a financier believed to be Mr. Putin’s banker; Vladimir I. Yakunin, president of Russian Railways; the oligarchs Roman A. Abramovich and Alisher B. Usmanov; and Igor I. Sechin and Aleksei B. Miller, the heads of Rosneft and Gazprom, respectively.”
Roman Abramovich owns the Chelsea soccer club and the KHL’s Avangard Omsk franchise.
Navalny’s complete piece is right here.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, President Obama expanded the sanctions list to include a number of people Navalny named, including Timchenko and the Rotenbergs. There is more on that right here.

And then there is this from YLE News (in English), their daily wrap of Thursday's Finnish newspapers.
Under the headline, KHL move a mistake?:
“Russia's actions don't just affect defence policy. Finland's number one hockey club Jokerit has just played its last game in the domestic league before starting a new era in Russia's KHL. The Russian league has been forced to move matches from Ukraine to Slovakia as a result of the crisis. Turun Sanomat's foreign desk took a look at the political situation and asked if that might now be seen as a mistake.
“After all, many KHL teams are owned by oligarchs who could be targeted by EU and US sanctions, limiting their movement in a league that includes clubs from Nato and EU countries. The competition is backed by state-owned businesses and seen by Russian policy makers as covering the Russian sphere of influence--but Jokerit are the first club to join from outside the former eastern bloc.
“The president of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association Kalervo Kummola told TS that yes, the current situation might make it more difficult to find sponsors but he did not understand the bad publicity Jokerit's new Russian part-owners had received.
" ‘This situation demands cool heads,’ said Kummola. ‘Not just in the Finnish hockey community but everywhere. Hopefully there will be cool heads on the other side of the border as well.’ ”

Those named in the sanctions will be unable to make transactions in dollars, will have any assets in the U.S. frozen and will be barred from doing business in the U.S. Timchenko is chairman of the board of the KHL and owns SKA St. Petersburg, which employs Ilya Kovalchuk at an annual fee of US$10 million. . . . You have to wonder how Kovalchuk will like being paid in rubles, which are plummeting in value. . . . Also, Arkady Rotenberg owns Dynamo Moscow.
In other KHL news, on Wednesday, the league officially announced three new clubs for next season -- Jokerit, Sochi and Tolyatti. Tolyatti was in the league four years ago but went bankrupt and dropped down. Sochi's team was rumoured before the Olympics, with Pavel Bure as GM.
Already, Donbass Donetsk, a Ukraine-based team, is playing its home playoff games in Bratislava, Slovakia. What do they do next season if this continues? What happens with the team in Zagreb if this thing escalates?

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