Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky told R-Sport on Thursday that the KHL is improving every year but that it will take time for the Russia-based league to be a true rival to the NHL.
Gretzky and his fellow Canadian Phil Esposito were among a cast of hockey greats who launched the new KHL season at a ceremony Tuesday.
“It’s a question of time, with every year everything will be better and better,” he said.
The four-time Stanley Cup winner warned that the KHL, now in its fifth season, could not expect immediate success.
“Of course, it takes time,” Gretzky said. “This is a new league, a new beginning. The NHL is about 100 years old, which is quite a long time.”
“The KHL will eventually gain momentum, as more and more players will stay here."
The first game of the new KHL season saw champion team Dynamo Moscow beat last year’s runner-up Avangard Omsk on penalty shots after a 2-2 tie at Moscow’s Megasport arena.