Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keep those passports in a handy place!

While the prospect of competition from Russia may be spooking the NHL a little bit on the talent front, the economic troubles of the last few weeks may do more to knock down that threat than anything else.

While the NHL will have to handle its own financial fallout from the credit crunch and the deep and long recession that many suggest has arrived, compared to the state of the Russian situation these days, the NHL might be in a wee bit of better spot than their Russian competitors.

Last week the Russian Stock market halted trading, stopped dead when the market suffered what the Globe and Mail describes as “a calamitous crash that erased more than 74 per cent of the value they held at their May peak – making Moscow arguably the world's most insecure market in the current global crisis.”

The Meltdown of the Russian Market, features particularly stunning losses for the Russian banking and energy sectors, which have seen some $230-billion, or 62 per cent of their net worth disappear in all the financial carnage. MMC Norilsk Nickel one of the major mining interests in Russia, has seen its shares plummet from a high of over $300 (U.S.) in May to a close of $58.25 yesterday.

Much of the oligarch economy of Russia is behind the development of sport leagues and the ownership of franchise in Russia and beyond, with their stream of revenues receding like an outgoing tide, one wonders how high on their priority list the vanity of sport will remain.

It makes for a situation that may make the funding and operation of the ambitious plans for the Kontinental Hockey League a little problematic in the short term. The league which has recently signed a number of high profile former NHLers and made a fair bit of noise about wanting more may suddenly find that the pool of available money isn’t as deep as it was just three weeks ago.

If you’re an ex-NHLer like Ray Emery, Jaromir Jagr or Chris Simon to name a few, it may be sooner, rather than later that you start making those long distance phone calls back to this side of the ocean.
Looking to pack a parachute for troubling times.

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