On Wednesday, the 12th of July, the Kontinental Hockey League unveiled the match schedule for the 2017-18 season. This calendar of games presented today is the final version, confirmed after the League sought and received the approval of its member clubs and of the Russian Hockey Federation.
The regular season starts on the 21st of August, 2017 in Saint Petersburg, with the match for the Opening Cup, contested by the 2016-17 Gagarin Cup winner, SKA, and the regular season champion, CSKA. The first stage of the Championship ends on the 1st of March, 2018, and the regular season will run for 193 calendar days (of which 145 are match days).
The second stage of the Championship gets underway on the 3rd and 4th of March, for the Western and Eastern Conference respectively.
Each of the 27 participating teams will play 56 regular season games. The breaks in the KHL calendar are timed to free players to participate in the Eurotour (the Finland stage, from the 7th to the 11th of November, and the Russia stage, from the 13th to the 17th of December), plus the 2018 Winter Olympic Games (from the 9th to the 25th of February). The schedule also includes a break (from the 24th of January to the 8th of February) to assist the Russian national team in its preparations for the Olympics, and for the 2018 Week of Hockey Stars in Astana (from the 12th to the 15th of January). The break for New Year is from the 31st of December to the 2nd of January, and as per tradition, there are no hockey games played on the 7th of September, as a mark of respect to those who perished in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy.
The calendar for the 2017-18 season has many advantages compared with those of previous Olympic years in the KHL. There will be fewer days without games - 48 in total (compared with 56 in 2009-10 and 61 in 2013-14), and there are only 8 days which are hockey-free for reasons unconnected to the IIHF calendar (compared with 16 in both 2009-10 and 2013-14). On average, each match day has 5.21 games (compared with 5.46 in 2009-10 and 6.25 in 2013-14).
The new schedule format will enable media to broadcast more matches live, which, of course, gives the viewers the chance to watch more live games.
Georgy Kobylansky, Hockey Operations Vice-President KHL, said of the new schedule:
“Our specialists have done a great job. This new season is a very busy time for hockey with several big international events, the main one of which is the Olympics. To create a calendar that best accommodated the interests of the national team and the clubs in the KHL was a very difficult task, but I believe they accomplished it. The schedule has good tempo and balance, considering all the external factors with which we had to comply, and was created in close cooperation with the Russian Hockey Federation, with whom we held many consultations until we finally arrived at the version of the schedule we have unveiled today. I am sure that this tenth anniversary season of the KHL will be an exciting one and and will captivate hockey fans everywhere.”