The big thing about the summer was that many NHLers who were in the twilight of their careers were making a defection to the KHL, primarily SKA St. Petersburg. The likes of Maxim Afinogenov, Denis Grebeshkov, Petr Prucha, Sergei Zubov, and Alexei Yashin were on the roster. Even Evgeni Nabokov tried his hand at it.....but then left after it wasn't for him.
Yet, with all the big names out there-- much like Ak Bars Kazan in the 2004-05 season-- they still weren't able to get to their championship for the season; which shows how little marquee names matter in any game, much less the Russian KHL.
Yet, while in the North American game, the lean is more towards getting the Stanley Cup when acquiring elite players; is that the motive for those in the KHL?? When you look at it all, while teams do want to provide a core that'll win games and get the ultimate championship-- it almost seems like getting these players are more of a way to attract the fans into the building. Let's not kid ourselves, the fact is that there are many KHL teams who are in financial peril, mostly because they're paying out to get these recognizable names the fans would want to come out and see.
So, it begs the question on what is the best way to go about things and what values the fans hold?? Obviously, the one market in the NHL has a salary cap; but beforehand, you saw teams like the New York Rangers swooping up free agents because they thought it could give them a chance to win the Stanley Cup and give themselves a name recognition to get fans talking about the team and get a buzz surrounding them. In the end, however, the Rangers always boomed out-- but they got the attention needed and got the people coming in. This almost seems like the way some KHL teams have been going-- get the names in, the people will show up, who cares if you win a title, so long as you make a profit.
But how long are fans able to take it?? I'm sure the tolerance in Russia could be a little bit more, but in the end-- fans are fans and as much as they would love to have the best players for their team; if they aren't winning against teams who don't have as much star power, but are playing like a team-- you'll want to have the front office shift in dynamics; or you'd think, of course.
In the end, it's all about what makes the most sense, and in a time where the KHL has seen teams have to fold up because the ends don't meet, whatever gets people out there to the rink will be the bottom line and if it's bringing back recognizable names just for the sake of it and not to really go out there to take the title-- then that's what's it has to be. It may not be right for most people, but if it's right for the team....that's all that matters.