In what seems as a shocking move, Finnish based team Jokerit Helsinki has announced it will leave the very respectable SM-Liga (Finnish Elite League) for the KHL starting in the 2014-2015 season. Jokerit is one of the more established teams in SM-Liga with quite the following. This proves the KHL is adding one more step to become an international competitor to the National Hockey League.
The KHL is currently comprised of 29 teams based out of 8 countries. Jokerit Helsinki will become the ninth representing Finland. Croatia is slated to enter the league this coming season.
All 29 teams are spread out throughout Euro-asia with the far east being newly HC Admiral Vladivostok which plays on the east coast of Russia across from Japan. Spearheaded by Alexander Mogilny, Vladivostok is hoping to turn itself into a contender within it’s first year and play for the Gagarin Cup.
Jokerit has had several stars breakout over the years including Esa Tikkanen, Teemu Selanne, Ville Laino, Erik Karlsson and currently Valtteri Filppula’s older brother Ilari and Jarkko Ruutu. It will be interesting to see how this team of Finnish faithful will adapt to the Russian style and league.