Gazprom, a company with a market value of $304 billion, has taken the first official steps toward creating a rival to the National Hockey League:
"Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom's deputy chief executive officer, and Russian Hockey Federation President Vladislav Tretiak signed an accord in Moscow to create the Continental Hockey League by April 15, the federation said on its Web site today.
Medvedev is a member of the organizational committee of the Open Hockey League, which is working with the Russian Hockey Federation to form the new league.
"This is the evolution of the Russian Super League,'' Russian Hockey Federation spokesman Vladimir Gerasimov said in a telephone interview after the signing. ``We need to take another step and secure investment from state corporations.''
While the idea of creating this league is not news, it previously faced some obstacles, with the Russian Hockey League against the idea just a short while ago.
"Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Hockey Federation, Vladislav Tretyak, is against the idea.
"There are a number of problems at the moment. The clubs are worried because they don't know whether there'll be 16, 18 or 20 clubs in the new league. I get the feeling, the Open Russian Hockey League doesn't know what they want," he said."
It was also reported that in total, six state-run companies including billionaire Oleg Deripaska's Ingosstrakh insurer will each invest $6 M in the league that will try and stop the hemorrhaging of Russian talent to America.
"The four other companies are oil-pipeline monopoly OAO Transneft, the VTB Group and Vnesheconombank banks and the insurance company Rosgosstrakh, Sovietsky Sport said.
The league will have 20 Russian clubs and an undetermined number of foreign ones, Gerasimov said.
"We can't rush,'' he said. "We need to make sure it won't interfere with the national team and the youth league.''
The NHL's all-time winningest coach, Scott Bowman, and former NHLPA's top figure Bob Goodenow are reportedly involved in the creation of this competitor to the NHL.
Dave Rouleau is a staff writer for the Business of Sports Network, where he covers baseball and hockey on The Biz of Baseball and The Biz of Hockey. He also can be found on Baseball Digest Daily, Inside the Dome (Scout.com), and Seamheads.com. His contact info can be found on the Authors Profiles.