5 reasons why you should watch KHL.

Ok, so this is probably a controversial topic of discussion. The Russian invasion of Ukraine started well over a year ago(at the time of writing.) And I think it is fair to say anti-Russian sentiment is at an all-time high. That said, I feel it is important to highlight that people are people and politics is politics. And simply cutting off the people and society will only cause more hatred.

So, with that in mind. I have written up 5 reasons why you should follow Russia’s premier hockey league, the KHL.

1 - From a supporters perspective, league has a more European feel to it.

There is no denying that while the US does many things extremely well. It is probably fair to suggest that the way the US runs live sports isn’t for everyone. Whooping and cheering and entertainment causing sensory overload in the breaks isn’t for everyone. Us Europeans often love a beer, some chips (not fries) and to sit in silence. 

This is exactly what you get with the KHL. A feeble attempt as US style entertainment means that you aren’t overwhelmed during the breaks. Allowing you to sit in silence and ponder the period you just watched.

 

I am not saying the the NHL is bad, it’s amazing. It’s the world’s premier hockey league and the live entertainment helps to make it what it is. However, as a European, a bit of quiet in between periods is quite nice.

2 - Quality is extremely high. Attracting players from all over the world.

Another awesome reason to get into the KHL is the sheer level of talent. It is probably fair to suggest that the KHL is the second highest quality league in the world, closely followed by a few other leagues I should add. But this accolade as the second best league in the world, helps teams to attract players of huge quality. 

This means that the average game contains just as much excitement as any NHL game. If you love to watch players with high hockey IQ, then the KHL is probably the league for you. Interesting tactics, well drilled teams and well practiced attacks are abundant in this league. 

Admittedly, you won’t experience as much physicality as the NHL. But with high hockey IQ and quality tactics. You’ll be surprised how entertaining this league can be.

3 - You get to learn about obscure Russian towns and cities in the deepest darkest Siberia.

I should be honest, I spent an extended period of time working in Russia. I speak Russian(fairly well). And not in one of the main cities either. I lived in a small town that is only famous for having the first nuclear reactor to produce electricity (first person to write the name of the town in the comments will get a shoutout in the next podcast!) Anyway, this experience, the opportunity to get to know Russian people, immerse myself in Russian culture was one of the most interesting experiences in my life. It changed the way I view the whole East v West divide. We are all people, fundamentally we all want the same things.

While watching KHL on YouTube and streaming services, you may not get to experience Russia to the same level as I did. But you will certainly get to peek behind the curtain, a curtain which, sadly appears to be closing again. You’ll see fans taking their children to the game. You’ll see those children desperately trying to interact with the players. You’ll see the local alcoholic (there are a fair few in Russia) downing beers and cheering his team on. 

 

While this part of the post is seems to be more of an ode to Russian people. I promise you it isn’t. Watching the KHL is an opportunity to see that while we are divided by leadership(I wouldn’t say either side has a leader). We actually have a lot that should bring us together. One of those things is this awesome sport.   

4 - See some future NHL legends learning their trade.

Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nikita Kucherov and many others are players who started their professional careers in the KHL. As the league is less physical and arguable more skillful than the NHL, it is the perfect place for youngster to learn their trade with less risk of destroying their bodies before they have began. 

 

Apparently there is a player called Ovechkin? (I had never heard of him before writing this blog.) Despite being one of the NHL’s stand out players, he returned to play for Dynamo Moscow during the shortened 2013-14 NHL season. Absolutely tearing the league up with 37 points in 31 games. 

A map of KHL teams by Elite Prospects

With the fact that the KHL is a hotbed for young talent, it is probably fair to suggest that any true NHL fan should probably keep one eye on the league. Seeing which players could eventually make into the worlds premier hockey league.

5 - Amazing free YouTube coverage.

Okay, this one is for those who simply cannot get enough hockey on YouTube. The KHL and it’s younger brother MHL, offer an insane amount of content on YouTube. And of course, while the majority of it is in Russian, the content is great for hockey purists. Amazing goals, great plays and even a fair few live streams (the MHL streamed the entire playoff live,) you have plenty to interact with.

I am not an expert when it comes to YouTube’s algorithms, so this may be wrong. However, I think YouTube probably discourages these channels with English language users, so will include the link here, this link is for the KHL and this one is for the MHL. Check out the link if you would like to watch some quality hockey!

So there you have 5 reasons why you should watch the KHL. I get that many people feel obliged to avoid all things Russian at the moment. And I completely understand that sentiment. 

Want more content, check out our podcast with U20 GB Head Coach, Martin Grubb.

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