By Nick Butler

Sochi 2014 chief Dmitry Chernyshenko has been appointed head of the Kontinental Hockey League ©AFP/Getty ImagesRussian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Organising Committee for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, after his appointment as President of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Chernyshenko, who was President and chief executive of Sochi 2014 and widely credited as a key reason for its success, was appointed to the new post during a meeting in the Black Sea resort dedicated to "tackling many current and strategic issues concerning the League".

As well as his obvious sporting experience, the 46-year-old is also chief executive of the Volga Group investment company that manages assets of businessman Gennady Timchenko, chairman of the KHL Board of Directors and President of KHL side SKA St. Petersburg.

He will replace Alexander Medvedev, the deputy chairman of state-owned gas company Gazprom, as head of a Russian-led league consisting of 28 teams spanning seven nations across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Putin, a keen ice hockey fan, met with both officials following the appointment, praising Chernyshenko for his Sochi 2014 success as well as Medvedev, who remains a council member of the International Ice Hockey Federation, for his efforts to "revive" the sport.

"I would like to ask you to use your experience and knowledge you gained while preparing the Olympic Games in Sochi in this niche - hockey development - not only in our country but also internationally," the President said, according to news agency Itar Tass.

"This means that the KHL is gaining international character."

Dmitry Chernyshenko (left), pictured during Sochi 2014 with Vladimir Putin, IOC President Thomas Bach (centre) and British IOC member Prince Anne ©Getty ImagesDmitry Chernyshenko (left), pictured during Sochi 2014 with Vladimir Putin, IOC President Thomas Bach (centre) and British IOC member Prince Anne ©Getty Images

The KHL, set up in 2008 and heavily backed by several Government-owned companies, is considered the second strongest ice hockey league in the world after the North American National Hockey League.

But it has faced problems in recent months, with two teams - Spartak Moscow and last season's finalist Lev Prague - both suffering financial collapse, while the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has forced another team, Donbass Donetsk, to stop playing.

Chernyshenko's primary responsibility will be to restore stability and to manage the planned growth of the League once the problems are resolved.

His appointment also continues a trend of figures associated with Sochi 2014 receiving high level appointments in Russia, with Dmitry Kozak, the Deputy Prime Minister who oversaw preparations for Sochi 2014, taking charge of economic development in Crimea in March.

Chernyshenko will also be joined on the new KHL Board by Alexey Krasnov, a former Senior vice-president of Sochi 2014, with the Board membership subject to review in two years time.

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