Last month, Lev Prague announced they would be leaving the KHL due to financial difficulty. Two other teams had to leave the KHL under the same premise; Spartak Moscow and Donbass Donetsk.
The KHL was creeping in as a competitor for the NHL not too long ago. Alex Ovechkin declared he would stay in the KHL if the NHL didn't resolve their lockout. If nothing changed, he would rather play overseas for a significant chunk of change.
If we speak in Russian, the NHL provided a beautiful dream to the media and fans, but in reality it’s a lie. It’s showboating. The league is trying to show that they are kind of working, trying to save the season, but they offer nothing new. It’s all the same, just in different words.
New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk left the Devils in the dust deciding to retire and sign with SKA St. Petersburg.
During the 2012-13 lockout, players flocked to the KHL to play hockey and earn some money. Kris Versteeg was vocal in his statement to media that Gary Bettman was "mucking" up the league. He also said he thought about staying in the KHL when NHL play resumed.
Nobody stayed. Every player opted out of their KHL contract and flew back to North America immediately.
The lour of the NHL is the end goal. The Stanley Cup can't be replicated and the level of competition across the board is unparalleled except for that of the Olympic Games every four years.
Now that the KHL is experiencing teams folding, the NHL remains stronger than ever with players from overseas eager to join the league.
Jiri Sekac, who played for Prague Lev, may have seen the writing on the wall and became available to NHL teams in June. The Montreal Canadiens signed him after more than 12 teams were after his services.
Petri Kontiola, signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, paid an estimated $600,000 to break free of his contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk. His one-year, $1.5-million contract becomes a league-minimum $550,000 factoring in the buyout.
Let's not forget about Washington Capitals' Evgeni Kuznetsov who had a less than welcome exit from the same team Kontiola paid to escape from.
Talent continues to be groomed in the KHL, but that's not where it's staying. Players want to play against the best in the NHL. Folding franchises in the KHL will only help the NHL attract more players.
The threats from the lockout were empty.
Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Geoff Burke