With the NHL marred in a lockout, hockey fans have just found a new source for pro hockey due to the unlikely marriage of two scourges of the NHL: ESPN and the KHL.
Via the KHL, the sports mega-network and the Russian pro league have come to an agreement to broadcast KHL games on ESPN3.
In the first week and a half of October, ESPN will broadcast five KHL games:
October 3: Dynamo Moscow v. Ak Bars
October 6: Lev Praha v. SKA St. Petersburg
October 7: Slovan Bratislava v. Dynamo Moscow
October 8: CSKA Moscow v. SKA St. Petersburg
October 9: Lev Praha v. Dynamo Moscow
As of this minute, game times are not announced, nor have they been listed on ESPN3’s lineup for the days listed above. It is also unclear as to whether or not this will be a continuing agreement, or these five games are all that ESPN and the KHL plan to broadcast to ESPN’s 73 million viewers.
With this deal, many NHL fans will be able to see many of their stars in action with KHL teams. Fans will have three opportunities to see Alex Ovechkin suit up for Dynamo Moscow, as well as a matchup between Ilya Kovalchuk (SKA St. Petersburg) and Pavel Datsyuk (CSKA Moscow).
Other players of note in these five games: Vladimir Tarasenko (SKA St. Petersburg), one of the top prospects in the St. Louis Blues’ organization; Jakub Voracek (Lev Praha), one of the Philadelphia Flyers’ best young scorers; Alex Radulov (CSKA Moscow), the former Nashville Predators’ forward; and Andrej Sekera (Slovan Bratislava), a talented young defenseman for the Buffalo Sabres.
The current schedule does not feature Evgeni Malkin playing with his hometown Metallurg Magnitogorsk, or first-overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft Nail Yakupov playing for his hometown Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk.
An important note for those unfamiliar with ESPN3, you must have an account (with a user name and password) through your cable provider in order to access the games. Right now, only five providers are allowed access to ESPN3, including Comcast XFINITY, Time Warner and Verizon FIOS. Check here to see if your provider gives you access to these games.