While the NHL is not considering another outdoor game this season, or any other season yet for that matter, the second marquee outdoor game to be played this season will take place in Moscow. The KHL will have their All-Star Game on January 10 the GUM ice rink on the Red Square, outdoors in the middle of Moscow. Like the NHL All-Star Game, there are a pile of corporate sponsors who have lined up to help the league out, so that's nothing new. The starting lineups for both teams were voted on by fans, and the media determined who else should represent Team Yashin (Russians) and Team Jagr (World). There are actually a few additional events that will make this day enjoyable. The KHL will feature a "Friends of the KHL" game that features some legendary players, similar to the Heritage Classic in 2003 between the legends of the Oilers and Canadiens. Here is a look at what the KHL is doing for their All-Star Weekend.
We'll start with the starting lineups for both All-Star teams in the feature game. Team Yashin will consist exclusively of Russian players while Team Jagr will consist of players from all over the world. If this sounds familiar, the NHL used to pit North America against the World for a few years in order to build excitement for the Olympics, but the East vs. West format was much preferred by all. The KHL has essentially used the two biggest names in their league to captain their respective All-Star teams. In any case, here are the starting lineups for Team Yashin and Team Jagr.
Defenceman: Ilya Nikulin - Ak Bars Kazan
Defenceman: Vitaly Proshkin - Salavat Yulaev Ufa
Forward: Alexei Morozov - Ak Bars Kazan
Forward: Danis Zaripov - Ak Bars Kazan
Forward: Maksim Sushinsky - SKA St. Petersburg
Defenceman: Ray Giroux - SKA St. Petersburg
Defenceman: Kevin Dallman - Barys Astana
Forward: Pavel Brendl - Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod
Forward: Tony Martensson - Ak Bars Kazan
Forward: Jan Marek - Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Those are pretty solid starting lineups. Five former NHL players are on the starting lineups, so it appears that this could be a fairly exciting All-Star Game. Along with both Yashin and Jagr in uniform, there are other players who will be joining them, so here are the rest of the lineups as added by the media and journalists.
Defenceman: Alexei Zhitnik - Dynamo Moscow
Defenceman: Konstantin Korneev - CSKA Moscow
Forward: Alexander Radulov - Salavat Yulaev Ufa
Forward: Alexei Tereschenko - Salavat Yulaev Ufa
Forward: Sergei Mozyakin - Atlant Mytishchi
Defenceman: Karel Rachunek - Dynamo Moscow
Defenceman: Magnus Johansson - Atlant Mytishchi
Forward: Jaroslav Kurdna - Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Forward: Esa Pirnes - Atlant Mytishchi
Forward: Branko Radivojevic - HC Spartak Moscow
The KHL will also feature the "Friends of the KHL" game where some of the biggest names in Russia will strap on the skates for a fun game. Individuals such as former Soviet players Alexander Yakushev, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Makarov, virtuoso saxophonist Igor Butman, television star Alexei Pimanov, talented figure skater Ilya Averbukh (on the right) and popular actor Vyacheslav Razbegaev will take to the ice in a celebrity all-star game. During this game, participants will honor several icons of Russian hockey, including Viktor Shuvalov, who in December celebrated his 85th birthday, and Vladimir Lutchenko and Yuri Blinov, who celebrate their 60th birthdays in January.
The KHL doesn't stop there, though. During the celebrity hockey game, the KHL goes back to the grassroots of Russia where they will host a youth hockey clinic for students at the Moscow sports school featuring master classes by Russian hockey legends. This event will provide an opportunity for these "future stars" to get pointers and learn special skills from some of Russia’s all-time greatest hockey players. I think this is a great idea, and should promote some positive PR about the KHL within their own borders.
Prior to the actual All-Star Game starting, the KHL will hold a hockey skills competition featuring the stars of the All-Star Game. Bragging rights are always up for grabs during these events, and there are some extremely talented players being featured in the game, so this should be another positive for the game.
The KHL-Star Game will be broadcast live on NTV in Russia and Europe, while NTV-Plus will also feature coverage of the day’s additonal events. In addition to the stands and seating in the restaurants and cafés near the rink, Vasilyevsky Spusk is installing a giant video screen adjacent to St. Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square to broadcast the entire day’s events to the more than 30,000 people they anticipate will see the event live. If you'd like to view the game, there will be a live online feed on the KHL website of the game as well. Please note that the game starts at 4:00pm Moscow time! Moscow is EIGHT HOURS AHEAD of Eastern time in North America, so you'll have to tune into the live feed at 8:00am on January 10 if you live in the Eastern Time Zone.
Corporate sponsors of the game include the Sogaz Insurance Group, Northern Sea Route Bank, Tissot, Nivea and Mont Blanc - names that are widely recognized throughout Europe and Russia. Getting some of the biggest names in the game involved should ensure that the KHL All-Star Game comes off as a success.
Overall, the KHL All-Star Game looks like it should go off without a hitch. The biggest names in the KHL have been voted in by the fans and media, and the outdoor attraction should bring everyone out to the rink. Here's to a successful inaugural KHL All-Star Game, and I hope that it goes well!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!