Russian firm taps into ice hockey fantasy craze

Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:24pm EST
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By Gennady Fyodorov

MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - Ever dream of having Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk play on your top line? Few, if any, in the National Hockey League (NHL) would refuse such an offer.

Various fantasy leagues have been a hot item for fans around the world for years and now millions of Russian sports enthusiasts can also follow their favorite players on a daily basis with the introduction of the online game

"We kicked off this project on September 1 to coincide with the start of the Continental Hockey League's (KHL) inaugural season," Dennis Adamovich, executive director of the parent company Russian Super Sports, told Reuters.

"Unlike similar fantasy hockey games in the United States that use the NHL players, our product is geared specifically for the Russian market."

Adamovich said he got the idea of developing the fantasy hockey league in Russia almost by chance.

"In 2004, (the chocolate bar) Snickers started a fantasy league in Finland during the world ice hockey championship, and the first year more than 200,000 people, which is nearly 2.5 percent of the entire population in Finland, played the game.

"So we thought, why not do this on a seasonal basis and Russia seems like a perfect place to do it," he said.

"Russia is a hockey country, it also has a huge potential as far as internet and other online services are concerned for companies advertising their products."   Continued...

<p>Russia's Alexander Ovechkin kisses the trophy after his team's overtime win over Canada in the gold medal game at the 2008 World Hockey Championships in Quebec City, May 18, 2008. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>