The National Hockey League may attract the sport's best players worldwide, but a new Russian organization is vying to build a healthy rivalry.
Alexander Medvedev was in Montreal on Thursday to promote the new Continental Hockey League, a successor to the Russian Super League with plans for expansion across Europe.
Medvedev, who is also the deputy chairman of Russian energy giant OAO Gazprom, has also been up front about his desire to acquire North American talent to play in the 24-team league.
But the initial goal is not to take top-tier talent from the NHL's ranks although the Continental Hockey League intends to hold a draft that could include NHL players.
"I don't consider it a rivalry between the leagues, I think we will co-operate on a player development program," he said. "I'm rather sure that, with goodwill, we will create a system that will benefit hockey everywhere."
Medvedev views that collaboration as a good thing for both organizations.
"We believe that the creation of a strong Continental Hockey League will help to develop global hockey," Medvedev said. "I met a couple of times with (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman and we agreed that we will continue our dialogue to benefit hockey in both North America and in Europe."
The Russian league has already acquired a pair of recognizable NHL names in forward Chris Simon and goaltender John Grahame.
Those names hardly signal an exodus from the North American league, but according to Montreal Canadiens president Pierre Boivin, NHL clubs should be paying attention.
"I think that we must recognize it, I don't think it's (got) to the point where it is a menace, but it's a possibility it will be," said Montreal Canadiens president Pierre Boivin.
"We have to acknowledge that we are part of sport that is truly worldwide... it's not just a North American sport, so it's not surprising that in Europe, particularly in Russia, that they have been able to put together a stronger league than we are used to seeing."
One substantial hurdle for the fledgling league will be player transfer agreements between European teams and the NHL, a sticking point that has yet to be resolved.
International Ice Hockey President Rene Fasel has voiced his supports for the Continental Hockey League and, along with Boivin, believes that those kinds of issues can be solved.
"We will find a solution, we don't want a war," Fasel said.
Medvedev was recently elected to the IIHF council and Fasel believes that the inclusion of equally passionate hockey fans is essential for the game to become more competitive across Europe.
"It's important to have him on our side," Fasel said.
"So we'll sit down with Mr. Medvedev, but we need to sit down and re-organize hockey in Europe and I don't think we need to go too quickly, we need to study this slowly and thoroughly."
The Continental Hockey League will drop the puck on their inaugural season on Sept. 2. Most of the teams will be based in Russia with one team each in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Latvia.With files from the Canadian Press