Saturday, November 14, 2009

Looming Hockey Strike in Russian League?

It's not that often that hockey intrudes into the realm of international affairs, though it seems to be happening more and more often with Russia's fledgling Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The latest story involves the KHL's Lada Togliatti, which is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and whose players are threatening to strike over unpaid wages.

Lada Togliatti is sponsored by Russia's automotive conglomerate AutoVaz, maker of the venerable Lada line of cars. Problem is that few Russians today want to buy Ladas. That has left AutoVaz on the verge of making massive layoffs and that has the city Togliatti in a panic, since the sprawling AutoVaz complex employs about one in seven of Togliatti's residents.

One cost-cutting measure at AutoVaz apparently has been to stop paying the players on Lada Togliatti, prompting them to threaten a strike. So far the KHL has agreed to pay the players through November, the league is also negotiating with a subsidiary of Russia's state-run weapons manufacturer Rosoboronexport about taking over the sponsorship of the team - now that could make for some interesting give-away nights for the fans...
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