Fetisov seeks to block players leaving for NHL after being elected to KHL board of directors

Slava Fetisov has been named to the KHL’s board of directors and is looking to make big changes to the primarily Russian league. While his planned expansion to China would be a major change, his proposal to keep Russian players under the age of 28 in the KHL could have significant impact.

Slava Fetisov has been elected to the KHL board of directors and there could be some big things coming to the primarily Russian league.

According to Russian hockey reporter Slava Malamud, with Fetisov now on the board of directors, there are two major changes he wants to make to the KHL. First, Fetisov is seeking to expand the league to China, something that has been long talked about but was seen as years from becoming reality.

A report had come in mid-June from player agent Darryl Wolski that the league could possibly put a team for 2016-17, but it remains a major risk for the league. This past season, several teams were accused of being late with payments to players and three of the league’s teams sat out the year due to financial complications.

What’s more shocking than the potential move to China, though, is that Fetisov is also pushing to block Russian players from leaving the KHL.

It’s not the first time Fetisov has mentioned potentially blocking the move to the KHL, but it is, however, the first time it seems as if the wheels could be in motion for the plan to come to fruition. In May, Fetisov said he wished for players under the age of 28 to be kept in Russia to play hockey, which would essentially keep them in the country until they’re in their prime.

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In a translation by the Associated Press, Fetisov’s reasoning was to keep, “our most talented guys, the ones who the people come to see,” in Russia.

Just this off-season, Russian players such as Artemy Panarin, Viktor Tikhonov, Alexander Burmistrov and Evgeni Medvedev have all left the KHL in favor of the NHL. Of those four, only Medvedev, would have been allowed to transfer over to the big league under Fetisov’s proposed rule.

“Panarin is 23 years old, and he gets the opportunity to go to the NHL,” Fetisov told at the time of Panarin’s transfer. “Because we (have) not spelled out rules!”

It is a change Fetisov had tried to make previously, but to little avail, saying the league was more focused on labor laws.

Fetisov made the jump to the NHL in 1989, when he was 31, but was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens 201st overall in 1978. After he re-entered the draft in 1983, the New Jersey Devils drafted him, this time 145th overall. Fetisov made his NHL debut with the Devils before going on to win two Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings.