The thing I fail to understand is this:
Why don't they just sponsor their own Russian teams? Are all Russian teams in the KHL that rich that they don't need any help from very very wealthy investors? If I were Russian born and they'd rather spend money on foreign clubs than our own I'd be very pissed. The KHL is also known for their goonclub Chekov, so Jokerit now needs to sign some tough guys for the first time ever, because otherwise they are going to get beaten up badly.
As for Austrian and Italian clubs joining I highly doubt that, they just don't have the money like most european clubs in order to compete in the KHL in terms of salary, player rights and of course don't forget the enormous travel.
Like I said nothing against the KHL a but I think the league and the rest of europe would be better off with not joining the KHL.
The Rotenbergs bought the arena and a minority share in Jokerit. If you were buying an arena, would you rather buy one in Helsinki or in Novokuznetsk? Not to mention the business and political access in Finland that they must have gained with this purchase.
You must not follow KHL much. After the last season Vityaz Chekhov has been told by the league to tone the rough stuff down, and they did. Now they are still mediocre and are no longer exciting to watch.
I bet you that there WILL be an Austrian or/and a Northern Italian team in the KHL within 3 years. And KHL went to unbalanced schedule, so it's no longer required that every team plays every other team the same number of times, and they went to heavier intra-conference schedule instead. Therefore the more Western European teams there will be in the Westernmost conference, the more of their games will be within their geographical area, and the less travel (relatively speaking) they will have to do.
The thinking of he KHL brass is that in order to compete with the NHL for players and popularity, they must expand into Western Europe. That's where the money is, after all. They believe that the existing European national leagues will at best continue to exist in their niche markets, and at worst will lose market share to the NHL and to other sports (e.g. soccer). That's why they are expanding so quickly. There's a grain of truth in that idea, IMO. I just hope they won't overextend themselves.