April 15, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (30) makes a save against the Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) during the third period in game three of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Wells Fargo Arena. The Flyers defeated the Penguins, 8-4. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Lockout Realities: Embracing the KHL

Since the NHL has officially missed regular season games due to the lockout, hockey fans are beginning to focus their attention on the game’s substitute premier league, the KHL. Many of the NHL’s big name stars have taken their talents to Eastern Europe for the duration of the lockout in order to stay in playing shape and pick up missed paychecks in the process. The result of this superstar movement is a quality product that all hockey fans can enjoy in the absence of our North American brand.

Formed in 2008, the Kontinental Hockey League is considered the best hockey league in all of Europe and second strongest internationally, behind our beloved NHL. The KHL is made up of twenty-six teams, twenty of which are located in Russia. The other six franchises are based in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The league is divided into two conferences, East and West, just like the NHL. Those conferences are divided into two geographically designated divisions. Each team plays a fifty-two game schedule, culminating in a sixteen-team playoff. The winner of the KHL’s playoff is awarded the Gagarin Cup, named after pioneer cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

The current KHL season began on September 4th, so its definitely not to late to catch up with the action and pick a team to follow. ESPN has made following the KHL much easier too. Starting this month, the network will be broadcasting a series of Kontinental League games on ESPN 2 and ESPN3.com. Here’s ESPN3’s programming schedule:

Dynamo Moscow vs Ak Bars on Oct. 3rd;
Lev vs SKA on Oct. 6th;
Slovan vs Dynamo Moscow on Oct. 7th;
CSKA vs SKA on Oct. 8th;
Lev vs Dynamo Moscow on Oct. 9th.

Only one member of the Blues is currently listed on a KHL roster, and he’s never skated for the Bluenotes. Russian phenom Vladimir Teresanko is currently under contract with St. Louis, but the lockout has delayed his NHL debut. He is playing for SKA Saint Petersburg, skating alongside New Jersey’s superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. Here’s eliteprospect.com’s updated list of NHL players who are currently playing in the KHL:

Date Player NHL Team KHL Team
09/16/2012 Evgeny Malkin (C) (from) Pittsburgh Penguins (to) Metallurg Magnitogorsk
09/16/2012 Sergei Gonchar (D) (from) Ottawa Senators (to) Metallurg Magnitogorsk
09/16/2012 Ruslan Fedotenko (LW) (from) Philadelphia Flyers (to) HC Donbass
09/16/2012 Alexei Ponikarovsky (LW) (from) Winnipeg Jets (to) HC Donbass
09/16/2012 Anton Khudobin (G) (from) Boston Bruins (to) Atlant Moscow Oblast
09/17/2012 Lubomir Visnovsky (D) (from) New York Islanders (to) Slovan Bratislava
09/17/2012 Kaspars Daugaviņš (LW) (from) Ottawa Senators (to) Dinamo Riga
09/17/2012 Nikolai Kulemin (RW) (from) Toronto Maple Leafs (to) Metallurg Magnitogorsk
09/17/2012 Ilya Kovalchuk (RW) (from) New Jersey Devils (to) SKA Saint Petersburg
09/18/2012 Jakub Voracek (RW) (from) Philadelphia Flyers (to) Lev Praha
09/18/2012 Niklas Bäckström (G) (from) Minnesota Wild (to) Dinamo Minsk
09/18/2012 Semyon Varlamov (G) (from) Colorado Avalanche (to) Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
09/19/2012 Alexander Ovechkin (LW) (from) Washington Capitals (to) Dynamo Moscow
09/19/2012 Pavel Datsyuk (C) (from) Detroit Red Wings (to) CSKA Moscow
09/19/2012 Ilya Bryzgalov (G) (from) Philadelphia Flyers (to) CSKA Moscow
09/20/2012 Jiri Hudler (LW) (from) Calgary Flames (to) Lev Praha
09/20/2012 Nikolai Antropov (C) (from) Winnipeg Jets (to) Barys Astana
09/20/2012 Artem Anisimov (C) (from) Columbus Blue Jackets (to) Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
09/21/2012 Mikhail Grabovski (C) (from) Toronto Maple Leafs (to) CSKA Moscow
09/21/2012 Sergei Bobrovsky (G) (from) Columbus Blue Jackets (to) SKA Saint Petersburg
09/21/2012 Vladimir Tarasenko (RW) (from) St. Louis Blues (to) SKA Saint Petersburg
09/21/2012 Tom Wandell (C) (from) Dallas Stars (to) Severstal Cherepovets
09/24/2012 Dmitry Kulikov (D) (from) Florida Panthers (to) Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
09/25/2012 Nikita Nikitin (D) (from) Columbus Blue Jackets (to) Avangard Omsk
09/25/2012 Pekka Rinne (G) (from) Nashville Predators (to) Dinamo Minsk
09/27/2012 Anton Babchuk (D) (from) Calgary Flames (to) HC Donbass
09/27/2012 Andrej Sekera (D) (from) Buffalo Sabres (to) Slovan Bratislava
09/28/2012 Victor Hedman (D) (from) Tampa Bay Lightning (to) Barys Astana
09/28/2012 Evander Kane (LW) (from) Winnipeg Jets (to) Dinamo Minsk
09/28/2012 Zdeno Chara (D) (from) Boston Bruins (to) Lev Praha
09/28/2012 Tom Wandell (LW) (from) Dallas Stars (to) Severstal Cherepovets
10/03/2012 Andrei Markov (D) (from) Montréal Canadiens (to) Vityaz Chekhov
10/04/2012 Anton Volchenkov (D) (from) New Jersey Devils (to) Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod
10/05/2012 Joe Pavelski (C) (from) San Jose Sharks (to) Dinamo Minsk
10/07/2012 Sergei Kostitsyn (LW) (from) Nashville Predators (to) Avangard Omsk

Tags: KHL Lockout NHL

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