Russian hockey players were on a high for the last couple of weeks after their Men’s hockey team won the Olympic gold-medal, but it was something that was expected of them. Now, it appears as if there is another team in Russia that is expected to win this year.
The KHL can often seem like a mysterious league to hockey fans in North America, largely because it’s mainly the more scandalous stories that make global news. That’s happening again today with the report of a conspiracy that almost seems too weird to be true. The story comes from a respected Russian sports writer, Slava Malamud (You know it's legit when Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger follow him), who shared a massive Twitter thread on the conspiracy after it reached a breaking point in a game between the Severstal Cherepovets and SKA in the conference quarterfinals.
We’ll post the full twitter thread below, but here are the main points from his story:
- SKA, a team that Russian President Vladimir Putin supports, has been allowed to circumvent the salary cap in the league (Payroll is reportedly six times the average team’s)
- Part of the reason for this was to allow superstars to play together on their team and build chemistry for the Olympics and ensure a victory
- A underdog team that is in no way supposed to give SKA trouble has nearly won a couple of games against them in a playoff series where there appears to be extremely biased refereeing
- Malamud reports that most of the conspiracy is common knowledge in Russia and nobody can do anything about it
With all of that said, there appears to have been one moment that really set everything off – including one team seemingly protesting the whole thing. In the game between Severstal Cherepovets and SKA mentioned above, this was the game-winning goal (That was reviewed and still not deemed offside).
At the end of that video, Malamud says that the slate translates to “Hockey is More Important”, as if to say that regardless of political motivations, hockey should not be tampered with. Icarus, a film that just won the Oscar for best documentary, touches on how sport can influence someone’s political career in Russia, so it doesn’t seem too farfetched.
Here’s his full Twitter thread: