Milano Rossoblu set to join KHL in 2012

Milano Rossoblu set to join KHL in 2012

21 Oct 2011 | Petr Polák

Even though the 2011-12 hockey season has barely started in Italy, the representatives of Hockey Milano Rossoblu have already started planning for next season. According to club president Ico Miglore, Milan is going to join the KHL for 2012-13.

"They [heads of KHL] have finally agreed that we have the capability in terms of organization to join the league." Miglore confirmed to that nothing will interfere with Rossoblu’s entry into the KHL, "Of course, it is not going to be a superstar team from the beginning, we need time to develop."

What motivates both sides, the KHL and Hockey Milano Rossoblu, to expand the league? The league continues its westward expansion in order to become more popular in the eyes of the "Old Continent" hockey fans. The KHL doesn’t want to be just a national league; its representatives dream of a European equivalent to the NHL. Before 2011-12, however, it only included former Soviet nations.

With the entrance of Slovak club HC Lev Poprad, the league has made its first step outside the former Soviet Union, but who is interested in the club aside from Slovaks and Czechs? The KHL has not increased its popularity very much and still urgently needs a fresh wind from the west. More westerly than Slovakia.

The choice has fallen on Milan, Italy. Perhaps, at first it sounds a little ridiculous, but when taking a deeper look it is not so unbelievable. Ice hockey has a long tradition in Milan, much longer than in the cases of big clubs of the present.

The very first European indoor ice rink was not built in Sweden, Finland, or Czechoslovakia. It was here, in Milan, in 1923. The existence of Palazzo del Ghiaccio in Milan, in combination with influence of the 1924 Chamonix Olympic Games, catalyzed the people of Milan and they established a hockey club in March 1924. In comparison to the reigning KHL championship club from Ufa, which was established in 1957, it is a very traditional hockey club.

Besides that, according to the words of Milan hockey fan Massimiliano Di Montigny, the people of Milan like the game of hockey. "Some people are tired of football for many reasons and here in Milan there was a search for something new to invest our emotions. Hockey fans in Milan love the game. They are excited about ice hockey."

We don’t have to look far back into history to find a good example: in the early 90s, a big spike in hockey interest occurred in Milan and the seats of Stadio del Ghiaccio Agorà were consistently full. The IIHF took notice of this and the city was the primary host for the 1994 World Championships.

That, combined with with the rich history of ice hockey in Milan, makes it seem that a relationship between the KHL and the "Red-Blues" could become very successful.

But at this point, the potential success is merely speculation. Presently, we don’t know if the club will be able to assemble a competitive roster and it’s difficult to predict if there will be enough interest in the KHL in Milan. It remains to be seen if Hockey Milano Rossoblu will, in fact, participate the 2012-13 KHL season. But they expect to.
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