After hosting a very successful Winter Olympics in February, the city of Sochi, Russia will be rewarded with a
Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) team next season. The team will probably play at the Bolshoy Ice Dome or Shayba Arena, or both, which are situated in the Olympic Park.
The team, which will likely be called the Sochi Leopards or Sochi Dolphins, is one of at least three hockey teams that will join the KHL in the 2014-15 season. Jokerit Helsinki, the successful Finnish hockey club will move from the SM-Liiga to the KHL and announced that hockey legend Jarri Kurri will be their new general manager. HC Lada Togliatti, a Russian hockey team based in Tolyatti, Russia, will return to the league next season after being demoted to the Supreme Hockey League in 2010 due to arena issues.
This means that the KHL will have 31 teams- one more than the NHL.
Although their revenue and attendance numbers are nowhere close to their North American counterpart, the KHL has experienced nearly exponential expansion and interest from players and owners. There has already been interest from NHL players Anton Belov, Andrei Vasilevski, Bogdan Yakimov, and even Teemu Selanne to leave North America. Lower tax rates, playing for their home countries, and less pressure are some reasons why players go to the KHL.