Late last year the leadership of the Kontinental Hockey League changed. President and founder, Alexander Medvedev stepped down and by a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors Dmitry Chernyshenko, the President and CEO of the Organizing Committee for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi took his place. Along him Alexei Krasnov, another former Sochi 2014 board member also joined the Board. In his first visit to Zagreb KHL's Vice-President of Hockey Operations Georgy Kobylyansky found the time to answer a couple of questions.
There is a new leadership in the league with a fresh perspective, what are your impressions of KHL Medvescak so far?
This is my first visit here, but I've been following Medvescak for some time now and I like their style of play. They play fast, with accurate passes. I watched the warm-ups, every single shot went between the posts. Medvescak is equally important to the League as the League is important to Medvescak. That is why we continuously collaborate in various areas.
How secure is Medvescak's position in the KHL and how does the League help its clubs?
We help all clubs that compete in the KHL. This season we already devided the money gained from television rights. The amounts are not big, but it is a start and next year the shares will be bigger. We need to create the environment in which every club will be able to support themselves. I promised Medvescak's leadership that I would help in negotiations with Croatian companies which do business in Russia to help create the right conditions to reach sponsorships. Ice hockey is the number one sport in Russia and KHL is a big brand. I fully believe that together we can strenghten Medvescak's position in the KHL.
During the previous leadership there was a lot of talk about further expansion. In your opinion, is the League more orientated towards the West or the East? Are there any plans?
We are concentrated on both the East and the West. First of all we look to traditional hockey countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, Finland... Currently we are in negotiations with a Swedish club to join the league. As far as East is concerned, there are big market trends moving in that direction and this year I will represent the KHL in two business visits to China related to possible expansion of the league to that area. We are trying to bring in a Chinese club as soon as next year, but we are also penetrating the market through MHL. We want to organize the Oceanian Cup in Vladivostok and there is also the possibility of playing the final two regular season matches between Amur Khabarovsk and Admiral Vladivostok in Korea and China.
Both China and Korea will be hosting the Winter Olympic Games and it is only logical they want to create the best national teams they can.
What is the current state of cooperation with the NHL?
We are negotiating on an array of topics and wil have a clearer picture after the World Cup of Hockey (Toronto, September 17 - October 1/2016). At the moment Gaszprom Media and NBC are working closely together and we are negotiating one, or possibly a whole series of friendly matches between the Stanley Cup and the Gagrin Cup Champions.