With North American hockey on pause for at least the next few months, you hockey fans may be looking to watch another league to satisfy your October cravings. You may find yourself searching for live stream KHL games. Let me be one to warn you: the KHL right now does not look like the KHL of last season.
The Kontinental League has one team and three developmental teams in China. At one of the first signs of trouble in Wuhan, the leagues made a decision to move their China-based teams to play and practice completely in Russia.
I didn’t know this until this morning. I was honestly pretty surprised they acted so quickly, mostly because of the state of affairs later this year.
The KHL announced they would be taking a one-week pause in their season due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
This is where the surprise wore off for me. One week is a publicity stunt to convince the world they do “care” about their players and staff. It wasn’t convincing for most and wasn’t helpful at all for those employed by the KHL.
Just a few days ago, news broke out of Russia that there were at least 200 players who had been diagnosed with or recovered from COVID-19. Articles from the KHL website are a feeble attempt at putting a positive spin on the situation. Salavat had 16 players out of the lineup yesterday, Dinamo Riga had 6 after forfeiting their previous game due to their team quarantine. Even Putin’s favorite team couldn’t escape the virus; SKA St. Petersburg had 20 players out on the 29th. These absences were labeled as “injuries” on the KHL site, but according to KHL president Alexei Morozov in an interview, there are currently 87 positive tests and 132 recovered from coronavirus.
So much for moving the Chinese teams to avoid the virus.
In case it wasn’t obvious enough, allow me to tell you what is so concerning about the KHL right now: they are not quarantining teams that have tested positive. Riga was the only team I’ve seen that has had a quarantine, but they’re now back to traveling around Eastern Europe playing against teams who have sick players and have not followed the same measures. It seems that no one has gotten the point; testing for COVID is pointless if you do nothing to prevent it from spreading.
Unsurprisingly, the KHL has ignored what made the NHL’s return to play so successful: isolation. The only reason the league was able to award the Stanley Cup this year was because of the massive effort of putting the remaining teams in bubbles. It was expensive and difficult for everyone involved, but the dedication to keeping players and staff healthy paid off. Meanwhile, the KHL is pushing forward as if nothing is wrong and hoping for the best. Clearly, that’s working out great for them.
If you were hoping to watch some of your team’s prospects play in Europe, you may want to think about the Swiss National League or the Swedish Hockey League. If you’re just looking to watch hockey and don’t care who’s playing, there’s the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (Germany) or the Czech Extraliga. They may not be the most exciting or talented leagues, but at least they’re not all sick with coronavirus.
-Heidi Thomas (@DamselOnDrums)
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