CSKA Moscow (formerly nicknamed the Red Army for its ties to the Russian military) has signed Alex Radulov to a contract for an astronomical $9M per year. This team plays in a 5,600 seat "ice place", where they'll get around 30 home games; ergo they'd have to charge at least $53 per ticket just to pay for Radulov's salary alone, notwithstanding the rest of the roster (which includes Alexei Yashin who certainly ain't playing for free). Then again, this team is not paying salaries with ticket sales. Their owner is an oil company called Rosneft, owned by the Russian government. This oil company hit it big when they absorbed the former oil giant Yukos. How were they able to do that? The boss at Yukos was a political rival of Russian President Vladimir Putin, so the President used the government to shut down Yukos and absorb it into a new company called Rosneft, owned by the state, with headquarters near the Kremlin. Mikhail Khodorkovsky was thrown in prison.
So if you are curious how the former Red Army team is paying its payroll, the answer is not ticket sales, jersey sales, or Vodka sales; it is from oil money seized by the Russian President from a political rival. With that kind of money floating around, you can see how CSKA Moscow is able to pay the bills without adequate gate receipts in an otherwise gate driven sport. Their General Manager is Sergei Fedorov, personally one of my favourite NHL players of all-time. He's running a team that once won 13 consecutive Russian championships from 1977 to 1989. The tradition is proud, and if you've got to topple the trillion dollar company of a political rival to pay the bills, well this is Russia! That's how the cookie crumbles in the Red Square.