The Chekist-run KHL collective farm plays Russian roulette with COVID-1903.12.2020
Independent journalist from Limbaži (Latvia),
The Russian Hockey League, which the Russians themselves proudly call the Continental Hockey League, has been searching for an identity since its inception. Unable to think of anything, they attempt to imitate others. But, like the famous example with the Zhiguli car – the best they can do still resembles pornography.
Even though Soviet times are long behind us, Russians view them as the best years since they overthrew the tsar. And for this reason, it is naïve to assume that an enormous country would suddenly completely change its attitude and way of thinking. It will not, because the people feel good in their own world – a world that teaches them to drink, steal and lie. This was a slight deviation for those who still moralize about Latvia benefitting from being part of the Soviet regime. The Russians may have expelled communists from their everyday lives, but the imprints of communism are still all over and visible to the naked eye by those who survived the Soviet era. For Russians, hockey is one of the national sports in which they regularly achieve considerable results, and this enables them to repeat the word – superpower. Hockey superpower! Therefore, it is only reasonable that they thought they should create their own league – it just suits them. Since the establishment of the league, there has not been a single season – not even one (!) – in which the format of the game or the teams would remain the same two years in a row. But these attempts to expand, something that is very natural for Russians, have ended exactly as they always do. They have not made it past the Baltic Sea, despite past attempts to lure in Italy, Switzerland, the UK, Sweden and even Spain and the UAE. They bought the Chinese, Latvians and the Finns and accepted the Kazakhs and Belarusians, but they already managed to lose the Czechs, Slovaks and Croatians.
When it comes to skills, the level in the KHL is high because it is able to attract many great hockey players. First, the Russians themselves are able to ensure that their players are quite skilled on average, and then we can add all those foreign hockey players who have given up their dream to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). It is amusing to watch the Russians attempt to imitate the NHL by getting accustomed to using such terms as draft, salary cap, minimum salary, free agents, restricted free agents, players’ association, etc., and immediately throw everything out of the window if it interferes with their goal. Even though on paper the most of KHL players are overpaid, i.e. their salaries are huge when compared with the entertainment sphere in Europe, up to a half of KHL teams are regularly struggling to pay salaries – teams remain in debt to their players for months, sometimes even years. However, since hockey players are not a spoiled bunch they agree and understand the rules of their contracts, because even if they don’t receive the full salary, they still earn more than they could anywhere else. Of course, for Russians contracts are in force only up to the point when they change their mind. And when they do – they will not hesitate to throw you out.
The KHL is not a business project and will never be because the idea behind it is rooted in the chauvinist conviction that Russians won the war so they can do whatever they want. But everything starts and ends in the treasury, regardless of whether you are a governor, a mayor or a state-owned natural resource company. All KHL teams are merely rude political spenders. Why political, you may ask – because funding for hockey is allocated on a political basis with the blessing of Putin himself. It’s like a manger and only the chosen ones can come near it. And because running a hockey club is not a cheap endeavor, billions of Russian rubles are funneled through these projects. It is difficult to become a chosen one, but whenever you see a new face appear in these circles you can be certain that it has something (everything) to do with money. There are rumors that each month many KHL players give portions of their salaries to someone else – a mysterious club employee, an agent, the manager… But no one will talk about this publicly and such cases have never been proven. But the fact that it is very profitable to be a part of the administration in a KHL club remains – just ask a Latvian named Guntis (last name begins with U) or anyone in Russia.
Former hockey player and President of the KHL Aleksei Morozov cannot control himself if a KHL player tests positive for Coronavirus.
The absurdity of the KHL was also evident when players in numerous teams were tested positive for Covid-19. Formally, there are clear rules that the teams should follow during the pandemic, but as is the case with many rules – they are enforced only when someone needs it. Do you need it? Do we need it? No, we do not. Screw the rules! When the Yaroslavl team did not head for its scheduled game because almost two thirds of the team were infected with Covid-19, an article appeared in Russian media outlets titled “Lokomotiv disappoints the KHL”. Former hockey player and President of the KHL Aleksei Morozov cannot control himself if a KHL player tests positive for coronavirus. He hasn’t accused the Americans of a conspiracy yet, but he did question the quality of the tests conducted in Latvia. By the way, there is a unified procedure of Covid-19 testing in Russia, but the KHL has hired its own laboratories to test players. This is where the fun begins: if the state tests 30 people positive for Covid-19, the KHL will test the same 30 people and say that only… one (one!) person tested positive. “We cannot afford to lose hockey,” Morozov said. He did not talk about the health and lives of other people because he is at the outpost. And behind him –Putin, Moscow, his position…
The teams that do not have enough players are being suggested to replace those infected with players from the junior league or really anyone who can hold a hockey stick. If they do not, it counts as a loss for the team. There are teams in Russia that have already received these technical losses. But they refused to punish the Finnish team “Jokerit” because the Finns do not have any other teams in Russian leagues. The Russians refuse to admit that in reality they are afraid of the owner of “Jokerit”, who is a wealthy Russian oligarch. Even wealthier than the Rotenbergs of St. Petersburg. His name is Potanin and he is the reason the KHL is quite reluctant to act against the Finnish team. The KHL along with Russian media outlets even attempted to present the blatantly political demarche of “Jokerit”, when it refused to play its first game of the season in Minsk, as being linked with Covid-19, although in reality this was demanded by the Finnish people and fans of the club. The fact that Potanin, who is a Russian/Finnish dual citizen, allowed this reveals his way of thinking, as well as his firmness and backbone. Even more, Potanin not only sits next to Putin when significant decisions are made, little Vladimir sometimes sits on the rich uncle’s lap. Since both men are named Vladimir (Volodya), I will clarify that in this case the little Vladimir is Putin.
According to the same logic, Latvian authorities should prohibit the Riga team from going back and forth across the border because it’s spreading the virus from Russia like its Christmas joy.
What is the situation with the Russian-funded, Chekist-run hockey club “Dinamo” Riga that Latvian/Riga Russians love so much? The team was under quarantine after it returned from Russia with a single point but many positive Covid-19 cases. In the first hours of this revelation, Juris Savickis attempted to cover it up by saying that the infected players were away from the rest of the team and that nothing is certain yet, etc. But then he must have realized that his actions are somewhat pathetic, so he gave up. If they are positive, they are positive, let’s obey the laws of Latvia. But there is one nuance – the leadership of the KHL does not like these laws, therefore it announced that if “Dinamo” refuses to play – and it was publicly known that two games were cancelled – it will receive technical losses. When Morozov suggested that the team uses junior players from the hockey club “Riga”, coach Skudra replied that this cannot be serious, and his stance was unexpectedly supported by Savickis as well. It is clear that the remaining common sense left in Savickis took over. Until, however, he explained his decision to the Russian press: “We decided that we will not send our juniors to play against Moscow’s “Dinamo” because we do not wish to downgrade the level of the KHL.” Savickis did not tell the Russians that it is important to care for the health of the players, as he expressed in Latvian media, instead choosing to care for the level of the KHL.
What should hockey fans do in these bizarre circumstances? Nothing. The “Dinamo” Riga project does not belong to Latvians, therefore it should be seen as nothing more than a reality TV show. And it would not be that bad if one day Morozov asks Savickis to rename the new mascot of “Dinamo” Riga whose name is Leons. Savickis will do everything he can to oblige because several years ago he revealed his special mission in Latvia: “We must neutralize the unfavorable attitude towards Russia.” He also said that the KHL season should not be interrupted: “We must not stop the game. We have to play. We have to do something.” As if the global pandemic was a nothing but a small nuisance. Their logic is simple – somewhere there is a galaxy where all of the chosen ones have gathered to save the planet by playing hockey. And if they are prohibited from playing hockey, the planet will die… According to the same logic, Latvian authorities should prohibit the Riga team from going back and forth across the border because it’s spreading the virus from Russia like its Christmas joy. And the teams that come here do the same. Why would be make forced exceptions in the name of sport when we know that the situation with Covid-19 in Russia is catastrophic? If the Russians want to maintain their collective farm called KHL in these emergency circumstances, Savickis and Guntis should take the new mascot and move to Russia. There they can establish bubbles, zones, red light districts or whatever so they can fully savor the fruits of their irresponsibility and narrow-mindedness.