The KHL continues it's expansion over the Euro-Asian continent, including a team planned in Sweden. But after the press conference today, I am not certain that that KHL will be interested in the Swedish organisation anymore.
In what can best be described as a disorganized school presentation before a group of dissatisfied parents, it was very difficult to draw any conclusions about the project following the press conference. The frustration on both sides of the microphone was clearly evident, and it presumably led to some secrets slipping out, secrets that I am not entirely convinced the KHL had approved beforehand.
Essentially the KHL approached the Swedish team AIK in Autumn 2015. AIK turned down the project. Realistically speaking, that probably would have been the only approach that could actually have worked in Sweden, although I might still be proven wrong in regards to this.
In 2015 the first real negotiations between the KHL and the Swedish group ("The Crowns") took place, and it has gone forward since then.
It seems that KHL has learned from their mistakes of expanding to Finland with Jokerit, as the Swedish group mentioned that with Russian backers supporting Jokerit, the Finnish companies felt that it is wrong to sponsor the team rather than a local club in the Liiga. This was something that should not be repeated and therefore it is a Swedish group through and through running this project.
The big hiccup that the KHL might take offence with was when 'Team Crowns' came under pressure. They seemed to have revealed that KHL is holding talks with teams in Korea, Japan, and Italy for a bigger expansion.
In another hiccup, presumably to strengthen their credibly, they let it slip that the potential Swedish KHL team had spoken to Pär Mårts, the current Swedish national team coach, who leaves his post after the World Championships. While the initial contact had been positive. other clubs seemed to have moved in for Mårts.
It later proved false that Mårts had been contacted by other clubs. In the meantime 'Team Crowns' had contacted former Washington Capital, former National team, and former Färjestad head coach; Bent-Åke Gustafsson. As it stands he's reported to be considering the offer.
What it all comes down to is that since they are a newly founded club, 'Team Crowns' is not part of the Swedish Ice Hockey Association (SIHA), and can apply for membership in any league.
The ownership group spoke of four issues presented by the IIHF that need to be taken care of, although they failed to elaborate on what those issues were. They were pointing to IIHF bylaw 501, but unfortunately they didn't give any more details.
Bylaw 501 reads as following:
501. International Games
Only Member National Associations, leagues and/or clubs are authorized to organise and/or participate in international games, leagues or other competitions in accordance with Bylaw 501 and 502.
Clubs, teams, players and officials taking part in such games shall be subject to the applicable IIHF Statutes, Bylaws, Regulations/Codes and Official Playing Rules.
A club that wishes to participate in and/or organise an international game or other competition must first obtain the permission of its Member National Association.
A club that wishes to play in a cross-border league and/or league of a Member National Association where the club is not located must first obtain the permission of the Member National Association where the club is located. The Member National Association where the club is located must consult with the necessary national league. If the club obtains the permission of the Member National Association where the club is located, it must then obtain the permission of the Member National Association of the country where the club’s future league is located. The IIHF Council shall exercise oversight authority over the aforementioned approval and consultation process and shall refer all violations to the Disciplinary Board.
For purposes of this Bylaw and Bylaw 502, location means the place where the club is conducting its daily operations, specifically including but not limited to, the venue where the club is holding it home games.
For all international games, the IIHF Official Rule Book shall apply and official game sheets must be completed.
All international senior club team and national team games must be officiated by IIHF licensed referees and linesmen.
The Russian Ice Hockey Federation does not want to work without approval from the SIHA. According to 'Team Crowns', the RIHF received a letter from SIHA that cleary indicates their displeasure with a Swedish team in the KHL.
What it comes down to is that there is no team as of yet. The potential Swedish KHL team wants the SIHA to treat them fairly, but when pressured they did not reveal how they would operate within the regulations of the SIHA.
The intention is still to start a team next season, the most likely opponent in the opening home stand on the 10th of September would be CSKA Moscow, and a game versus Jokerit shortly thereafter. They would play at either one of the football arenas in Stockholm; Friends or Tele2.
The fact that they won't have any fans to begin with is a problem that the team sees as "something positive" and "a great challenge".
In order to complete the train wreck of a press conference, one of the partners in 'The Crowns' minted the expression "Crowns or Clowns" in regards to the planned team.
Uppföljningsmötet hos Sweden Crowns just nu. "Ja, hur tycker ni att presskonferensen gick?" pic.twitter.com/TbuutaaFGf— Patrik Sjögren (@SjogrenPatrik) April 22, 2016
It feels like the support for this project might have died when he said that, even as far away as Moscow