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Thread: On the NHL's Expansion to Europe?

  1. #1
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    On the NHL's Expansion to Europe?

    Finally, a North American news outlet - and a major one at that - calls the NHL's talk of expansion franchises in Europe for what it is - asinine.

    While not published in print, the New York Times offers a very good online hockey blog.

    Here is a link to the article belittling the NHL's talk of supposed European expansion.

    http://slapshot.blogs.nytimes.com/20...ount/#more-854

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    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    Excellent article.

    Yahoo's Puck Daddy: “Like we’ve said here since the KHL was born: All of these new European hockey leagues are indirect pleas for the NHL to one day absorb them and create a global league.”

    I hadn't heard that quote before, but boy does it make my blood boil. Arrogance doesn't even come close to describing it...

    Graham.
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    IHF Staff Trim's Avatar
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    Good to know there is somebody who doesn't have their head firmly shoved up their arse. Nice of them to bring the fact these clubs have generations of fans, not like, say, the San Jose Sharks.

    Don't get me wrong, to say the Rangers or Leafs don't have loyal fans spanning generations would be a lie. San Jose, while clearly not a northern city, has no problem filling the (Corporate) Pavilion and they are doing good things for Chinese hockey, as seen in their involvment there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham View Post
    I hadn't heard that quote before, but boy does it make my blood boil. Arrogance doesn't even come close to describing it...

    Graham.
    Arrogance sprouts from ignorance, and well, at least that is an explanation. Still very worthy of cringe.
    Last edited by Trim; 25-09-2008 at 15:02.
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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Slapshot is a good blog, and this article is a necessary one that contains a great deal of truth.

    But I am not sure it's that simple.

    I'll give you a thought-experiment. what if:

    ...the economic hands of the NHL were less tied and it decided to form a joint venture with powerful European businessmen to form a competitive European affiliate of the NHL.

    For starters some 12 of the very best European teams would be persuaded to join the creation of a European conference provided that...

    1) the teams would preserve their current name (Kärpät, Jokerit, HC Frölunda...);

    2) brand new, and bigger arenas be constructed (if necessary);

    3) the teams would have enough economic clout and freedom to attract the very best of their nationals in the NHL, and

    4) the teams would be allowed to have a farm team in their national league.

    The scheme would envision the return of such players as Henke Lundqvist, Henrik Zetterberg, the Sedins etc. to the (two) Swedish teams, Ovechkin, Malkin, Datsyuk etc. to the Russian teams, Olli Jokinen, Kiprusoff, Selänne etc to the Finnish teams, Marian Hossa, Gaborik, Visnovsky to the Slovak teams, and so on.

    The NHL would allow these transfers to give its European affiliate the best possible start.

    Furthermore, there would be no extensive travelling forth and back the Atlantic. In the revamped NHL, there would be a North American Conference and a European Conference. Each team would make two road trips across the Atlantic per regular season playing in total 12 games on the road, and 12 games at home, against teams from the other conference. The North American conference would be cut to 24 franchises (I leave it to you to guess what franchises to be killed, but its not that hard). The scheme would ensure that the 12 European teams play all 24 NA franchises once per regular season (either at home or on the road).

    In total the teams would play some 70 games per regular season (like in the NHL some years ago). The playoff scheme would remain as it is in the NHL, but the winner of the European Conference would be declared European Champion and the winner of the North American Conference, North American Conference. And yes, you guessed it right, the winner of the Stanley Cup finals (or whatever it would be called) would be declared the World Champion.

    The shortened regular season (from 82 to 70 games) would furthermore ensure that all players would be available for the world championships.

    Granted, this scenario remains hypothetical, but the question is: Would the NHL get it right (and the Slapshot article get it wrong)? Would European fans be intrigued by this brave new hockey league? That's probably an open question, but I tend to think yes.

    I don't think that a NHL expansion to Europe is a categorical no-goer. I think it depends, but then again, I don't think the NHL has what it takes to make it fly.

    On a sidenote, it was something along these lines, Detroit Red Wings owner, Bruce Norris envisioned when he attempted to create a European super league in the early 70s. Norris ideas initially received strong support from some very powerful people including Bunny Ahearne, the president of the IIHF.

    But in the end the plans didn't fly, not so much because of the lack of interest among European hockey fans (that's a common misperception) as 1) fierce resistance from the most influential federations - Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Sweden - which were much more powerful than they are today, and 2) the idea was superseded by the creation of the WHA.
    Last edited by Karsten; 25-09-2008 at 23:03.

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    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Very interesting ideas, Karsten.

    The one thing that makes it a non-starter, though, is the idea that the NHL would "allow" transfers of Swedish superstars to Swedish teams, Russian superstars to Russian teams, etc.

    For a start, not every player would necessarily want to play in his own country.

    The much bigger issue, though, is that the NHL has no right to take a valuable asset from one of its member clubs - i.e., a player and the contractual rights the club has for his services - and simply give, grant, award or assign it to another club. Any attempt by the NHL to do so would result in lawsuits against it not only by the member clubs affected, but likely by the NHLPA as well.

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    There are all kinds of obstacles, but I'm not sure you got my point: an NHL expansion cannot be rejected categorically, it depends...

    And please don't start again with all that legal stuff. Thanks. This is thought-experiment which challenges the common perception that a true European league has no chance surviving. I think it has, provided the conditions are right.

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    IHF Member Tokyo Bucks's Avatar
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    That sounds like a utopian scenario for the NHL if they move into Europe.

    But I guess we'll first see how the Champions Hockey League works out to see even if intra-European competition holds enough interest for the fans.

    And secondly, if the NHL teams were to strive for the greater good of the league and the sport, they would support some sort of a compensation system for losing European players going back their own country's teams (provided that these players want to).

    Lots of speculation and pie in the sky, but these exercises are fun every once in a while.

    (Reducing NA teams to 24 teams may not be a non-starter if NHLPA accepts that the new version of the league is truly 36 teams in size.)

    Man, that'd be a fun league to watch for us international hockey watchers (but we're a minority...)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Brunengraber View Post

    The one thing that makes it a non-starter, though, is the idea that the NHL would "allow" transfers of Swedish superstars to Swedish teams, Russian superstars to Russian teams, etc.

    For a start, not every player would necessarily want to play in his own country.

    The much bigger issue, though, is that the NHL has no right to take a valuable asset from one of its member clubs - i.e., a player and the contractual rights the club has for his services - and simply give, grant, award or assign it to another club.
    What is the status of the so called "expansion drafts" when old teams may protect certain number of players but everyone else are up for grabs for the expansion teams? Isn't such draft in essence, taking a "valuable asset from the member club"?

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    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    To a degree, Drax, you are correct.

    The NHL clubs have long ago agreed to an expansion draft when a new team comes into the league. However, the clubs have always been allowed to protect a certain number of their players - which the clubs themselves choose.

    One cannot possibly think that Detroit, for example, would expose Lidstrom, Datsyuk, or Zetterberg, or that the Penguins would expose Malkin or Crosby, or that the Caps would expose Ovechkin.............you get my point.

    Karsten - I like your idea. And I even believe that it would have a snowball's chance in hell of actually working, IF:

    1. Existing NHL clubs are not threatened with having to give up their star players
    2. Future NHL European based clubs are not given exclusive or preferential rights to players who happened to be born or trained in the particular nation in question (i.e., Swedish NHL teams don't get any exclusive or preferential rights to Swedish players, etc.)
    3. There are no import restrictions in any NHL member club
    4. If playoff qualification can be satisfactorily resolved, given that the North American conference would have twice the number of teams as the European conference

    The bottom line, also, is money. If such a league setup would generate more profit and truly open up a new, vibrant market or markets for the NHL, then the NHL would probably consider it.

    As for keeping the names of the joining European teams, I'm all for it.

    I don't know about the typical (i.e. casual, non hardcore) North American hockey fan, though, who doesn't get the idea of a name appearing before the team's city, or who is so insulated that he or she has no idea of where Oulu or other non "major" European cities are. Whether those fans would warm to the names that, to them, don't mean anything intelligible in English (narrow-minded as that may be), or to seeing their favorite team play clubs from cities they've never heard of, is a factor that would probably be considered by NHL brass. Clubs from Moscow, Stockholm, Prague, etc. might draw fans. Karlovy Vary? I'm not sure that would work for the typical geography-challenged North American, casual hockey fan.

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    IHF Member buffmatt78's Avatar
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    I regret to inform you I wouldn't be on board lol....I think it would be cool to watch cross over matches between NHL and top Euro Club teams throughout the season but the NHL is Lord Stanley and Lord Stanley is the NHL... Im sure Euro fans feel the same way about there cups. it just brings back a bad feeling in my stomach, the same feeling me and millions of CND's felt when Baltimore in its second, and last season ever, won the CFL's (yes Canadian Football Leagues) Grey Cup in 95 from my Stampeders. the thought of our trophy on US soil was hard enough I couldn't amagine it across the pond. I would support a one week allstar break mid season where each division leader, being 6 teams in total earn the right to travel the pond and play 2 cross over games each against respected top Euro teams and a small vacation paid by the NHL, alternating each year between NA and Europe(no trophy)just for the fans. 12 crossover games would give me my fix.

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    IHF Member rusher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buffmatt78 View Post
    mid season where each division leader, being 6 teams in total earn the right to travel the pond and play 2 cross over games each against respected top Euro teams and a small vacation paid by the NHL, alternating each year between NA and Europe(no trophy)just for the fans. 12 crossover games would give me my fix.
    I guess there was at least one NHL season when they added the points gained against the USSR clubs to the championship table or it wasn't?

    Anyway, NBA talks about expansion in Europe. NHL talks about it too but the problem is they want to put teams in markets these particular sports do not exist or do not exist in a form of 10 000 people crowds willing to follow every game. That is why these plans will meet failure.

    I they respect the local clubs and ask them to join these leagues it can bring up the same issue as with Swedes and Finns in the KHL. Leagues of the countries these clubs represent will resist.

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    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Marc, remember that most Americans hadn't heard of Ottawa until we joined the NHL either

    Sad but true (just refer back to the grand ol' tv show Talking To Americans... and yes, we have TV in Canada. lol)

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    IHF Staff Trim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Brunengraber
    Whether those fans would warm to the names that... they've never heard of, is a factor that would probably be considered by NHL brass. Clubs from Moscow, Stockholm, Prague, etc. might draw fans. Karlovy Vary? I'm not sure that would work for the typical geography-challenged North American, casual hockey fan.
    Isn't Karlovy the city and Vary some funky team name? (ugh) I'm sure our good old buddy Gary thinks so.

    You have a point though, how often does the NHL mention 'hockey towns?' Commenting on Ovechkin's contract, Bettman said "it tells you he likes the market" Not the city, but the market. If the NHL considered Europe, they're not looking at hockey cities like Karlovy Vary (53,780) or Jönköping (84,423). They will look for cities (and metro area) with multimillion populations like the aforementioned Moscow, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin, London, Prague, or even Milan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    Sad but true (just refer back to the grand ol' tv show Talking To Americans... and yes, we have TV in Canada. lol)
    I miss the first few seasons of The Red Green Show.

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    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Ahhh yes, that wonderful NHL dream of having franchises in Paris, London, Milan, and hey while we're at it why not Cairo and Madrid!


    idiots..... I honestly don't think the NHL front office is THAT stupid (unlike some dumbass columnists we see in the media...)
    Pierre McGuire seems all for NHL franchises in these cities that either already have big teams, where the fans wouldn't likely leave their teams.. or otherwise in cities where the top team isn't even in that country's top league.
    McGuire tries to sound knowledgeable, but man when you break down what he says, he doesn't know shit about hockey, and it astounds me how every major sports radio station in Canada considers him an expert.

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Marc B., what I have outlined is not a proposal. And it goes with out saying that I would not support it, if it was a proposal. I don't want any league to become this dominant.

    I have just outlined what I think would be necessary to get the Europeans on board. Obviously, the NHL does not have what it takes. I have already pointed this out.

    As for obstacles, another serious one is the existence of the KHL.

    At the press conference last week, Bettman and Daly said that the NHL will monitor how the KHL project evolves over the next decade. If the KHL succeed expanding to Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Germany, then the NHL might attempt to create a European division.

    Which begs the question: Do the NHL intend to conquer the KHL expansion teams? That would be an open invitation to a full scale war between the NHL and KHL.

    Or do the NHL intend to create brand new franchises in London, Paris, Rome? That would never work. But as Kazakh and Steigs point out, the NHL is indeed thinking along this line.

    I sincerely doubt the KHL would succeed expanding to North and Western Europe, but at least they got the fundamental rights. The NHL doesn't.
    Last edited by Karsten; 26-09-2008 at 08:33.

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    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    Granted, this scenario remains hypothetical, but the question is: Would the NHL get it right (and the Slapshot article get it wrong)? Would European fans be intrigued by this brave new hockey league? That's probably an open question, but I tend to think yes.
    I would extend the argument to whether the North Americans would be intrigued by this brave new hockey world. We have a tendency to focus on the Europeans because it appears that they have more change through this than the North Americans, do. But, how does a Detroit fan watch the Red Wings playing at 7pm on a Wednesday night in Moscow, which equates to 11am in Motor City?

    The North Americans have something nice going on. They have the top 30 teams in the world on their doorstep and have complete control of them. Is the average North American NHL fan excited enough at the prospect of watching their team play CSKA Moscow to be happy that there will be fewer road games to watch within their own time zone or to give up that bit of power.

    And I think that that argument extends beyond the NHL. If the NHL does move east, what will happen to the North American minor and junior systems? If half the teams are in Europe, why would a European player show any interest in playing in North America for any team other than an NHL one?

    But, I think that this is the only really relevant question. The only thing that the NHL can't have complete control over is culture. The other questions only set the scale of the cultural change, but all technical challenges can be overcome. But, there still exists at the very base of this argument a cultural shift on both sides of the Atlantic and the NHL cannot completely control it.

    I actually take a different angle on Karsten. I'm not sure that either side of the Atlantic really want it. The only way that I think it would be palatable to the European market would be to scrap the NHL altogether (or make it just another NA minor league) and create a brand new world league that has no ties to the NHL other than some teams will be the same name. Otherwise, the Europeans will feel that they are being forcefed what the Americans tell them to eat, and I think that Europe is still uncomfortable with feeling that they are in the American's pocket (not just in hockey, but in general).

    You could argue that this is just another technical challenge; that the NHL could be dissolved and a new power-sharing league could be created from scratch. But, I would be very surprised if the NHL were prepared to give up their power. They want to control Europe, not give up part of North America.

    Graham.
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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Graham, I don't think we have a different take on this. I have never said that any of the parties want a global league (I certainly don't).

    But it is a fact that the NHL is contemplating with the idea of colonizing Europe with NHL teams. As I have said earlier, this is just the latest step in the NHL's imperialistic quest. some may be offended by this term, but is in fact apt, and it's a logical step: the first step is uneven trade: Europe delivers the raw material, and the NHL the final good; once the domestic market is saturated, the next step is expansion to foreign market; this is what we witness right now with the NHL's attempt to market the league in Europe. The final step is take-over, or to keep with the terms: colonization.

    And it will never work.

    To win Europe, an NHL franchise expansion to Europe must be on equal terms. For instance along the lines that I have sketched. And, yes, this would imply a complete makeover of the NHL which it would never accept. That's implied by my outline, but I chose to leave it to you to figure this out yourselves. Well done.

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    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    Karsten,

    I think the bit we disagree on is the piece I quoted. You said that you tend to think that European fans will be intrigued, I tend to think that they will show open animosity and will remove all logic from their decision to do so. In effect, it will be an entirely emotional decision.

    Graham.
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    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    To expand this a bit, Pierre McGuire (the moron that he is) was talking yesterday about a Hong Kong station buying tv rights to NHL games, and stated brazenly that once (not if, but when) the NHL expands to Europe, Asia will be ready for expansion there too.
    Can you believe it? ...that's the quality of hockey "insiders" we have here in Canada. I'm embarrassed.

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham View Post
    Karsten,

    I think the bit we disagree on is the piece I quoted. You said that you tend to think that European fans will be intrigued, I tend to think that they will show open animosity and will remove all logic from their decision to do so. In effect, it will be an entirely emotional decision.

    Graham.
    Yes, I think it would intrigue some European fans provided that all conditions listed be fulfilled. But this doesn't mean that I support the idea. I still don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    To expand this a bit, Pierre McGuire (the moron that he is) was talking yesterday about a Hong Kong station buying tv rights to NHL games, and stated brazenly that once (not if, but when) the NHL expands to Europe, Asia will be ready for expansion there too.
    Can you believe it? ...that's the quality of hockey "insiders" we have here in Canada. I'm embarrassed.
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    IHF Staff Trim's Avatar
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    I agree with Graham about the Detroit at Moscow scenario. As Marc Brunengraber mentioned about the geographically-challenged casual fan, that would be compacted by time zone changes. Sure, in the continental US there are time changes, but that is just 3 hours maximum since we have yet to place teams in Newfoundland. Once you introduce a new continent, with cities they've never heard of in countries where they may not even know where they are*, then time zones becomes increasingly more difficult for those people, especially those without contacts in Eurasia.

    * A former friend of mine visited while I was playing NHL 2001 as Latvia, which he proceeded to pronounce "La-tee-vah" and think it was in Africa. Sad, but true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    The Sarah Palins of the world....
    She's a Pierre McGuire. At least he works in hockey, not just a hockey parent. She allegedly shot a moose, however, and I'm told those are quite tasty.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    Ahhh yes, that wonderful NHL dream of having franchises in Paris, London, Milan, and hey while we're at it why not Cairo and Madrid!


    idiots..... I honestly don't think the NHL front office is THAT stupid (unlike some dumbass columnists we see in the media...)
    In fact it's KHL boss Medvedev who talked about teams in Paris, London and Milano and keep mentioning this in interviews.

    So who is the most stupid ? NHL front office or KHL front office ?
    That's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise

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    IHF Member Tokyo Bucks's Avatar
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    Maybe they're just equally stupid? :P
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    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    In fact it's KHL boss Medvedev who talked about teams in Paris, London and Milano and keep mentioning this in interviews.

    So who is the most stupid ? NHL front office or KHL front office ?
    I think it's any idiot who thinks that last year's season-opening games in London could actually be considered a success.

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    IHF Staff Jazz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    I think it's any idiot who thinks that last year's season-opening games in London could actually be considered a success.
    All they wanted to do was to sell-out the games, which they did, so in their minds, mission accomplished.

    On a side note, I remember the NFL playing a game there last season as well, and at least they made a spectacle of the event and tried to drum up interest....

    Side Note #2 - there are some North America media members reporting that there could be as many as 8 teams opening in Europe either next year or the year after....

  26. #26
    IHF Member Tokyo Bucks's Avatar
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    Wow, 8 teams! That seems like total overload.

    And NFL is playing another game in London this season too. And Buffalo's playing 8 games (both preseason and regular season) in Toronto in the 5 years starting this year.
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    NBA in Europe, NFL in Europe, NHL in Europe, MLB in Europe are all foreseen as fiasco.

    i just dont see any city or team in europe which fans will pay about 100 euros each night for 41 times in regular season and fill some giant arena. theres no city in europe which can do it. not even in basketball (more popular sport than hockey in europe) and has bigger market in europe.
    i dont see a tv network that will pay multimilion sum for tv rights. theres a marketing problem, theres a time zone problem, theres problem with arenas, theres a problem with tradition. european fans would rather watch local derby than some "helsinki jokers" vr "moscow babushka". not speaking about "london three lions" vr. "goteborg volvo".
    with possible exception of germans, who even followed nfl europe, and renamed their weak basketball league clubs to geissen 77ers, artland dragons, some tigers ect. same as DEL.

    whole thing is utopia. total globalisation is nice, but ocean is too big.


    p.s. kudos to NYR for 2 wins.

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    IHF Member Nightmare's Avatar
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    There is a league that makes full house for almost every game, has pricy tickets, an has a 38 round season, the English Premier League, but that's football(the foot football, not the throwing oval balls type) and the MLS isn't crossing the ocean any time soon. Fact is that the situation is like this: every major non-hockey city has it's own share of other clubs from other sports, generally football, and I just don't see the liverpoodlians giving up their beloved Reds or Blues for the "Liverpool Dragons". And besides that, almost every country that isn't "hockey crazy" has more than 1 sport(football, rugby, basketball, handball and so on) plus that, with the exception of basketball and ice hockey, europeans are not so fond of North American sports. If we jump to the countries where ice hockey is popular, well, that's been discussed...
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    IHF Member Tokyo Bucks's Avatar
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    NHL put its foot in the Japanese market several times and was only greeted with mild interest. Now NHL's focus is squarely on Europe.

    To my knowledge MLB has no intentions of doing anything in Europe. Actually there's an interesting situation developing in the MLB v NPB (Japanese baseball league) that has some similarities to the NHL v KHL situation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tokyo Bucks View Post
    NHL put its foot in the Japanese market several times and was only greeted with mild interest. Now NHL's focus is squarely on Europe.

    To my knowledge MLB has no intentions of doing anything in Europe. Actually there's an interesting situation developing in the MLB v NPB (Japanese baseball league) that has some similarities to the NHL v KHL situation.
    yup, i know, baseball in europe is very poor. NPB is much closer, but i mentioned it as all 4 NA sports. croatian nt which is among top10 in european baseball was blown away against some us div3 college during preparations for european championship.

    you just cant force NHL to europe, where you have 50 different countries with 50 different situations on some sport popularity. in sweden they like handball and bandy, but in uk then havent got a clue whats handball. and those sports have its own markets. pusing nhl into europe would be extremely difficult.

    p.s. what about taxes? every different country has its own laws and taxes. oveckins 8.000.000 euros sallery for a club in sweden might be 13.000.000 before tax, but in russian clubs might be 8.200.000.

    theres bunch of possible issues.

  31. #31
    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazz View Post
    Side Note #2 - there are some North America media members reporting that there could be as many as 8 teams opening in Europe either next year or the year after....
    ...I want what they're smoking!

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    [quote=Jazz;129399]All they wanted to do was to sell-out the games, which they did, so in their minds, mission accomplished.
    [quote]

    Perhaps, but the 02 Arena was only half full in both games. Did they give a lot of tickets away to various firms and institutions, or ticket packages with heavy discounts?

    I'm sure they did, and it that case the mission accomplishment was self-fulfilling.

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    I think the games against European teams are great. I don't think the NHL will get much extra attention from the European fans, but it gives some exciting games.

    Ottawa-Frölunda tonight, can't wait.

  34. #34
    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    There is a league that makes full house for almost every game, has pricy tickets, an has a 38 round season, the English Premier League, but that's football
    That is still significantly fewer games a season, though. Of those 38, only 19 are at home and the majority of them are on a Saturday afternoon. For a European NHL team, it would be 41 home games and the majority would be midweek.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazz View Post
    All they wanted to do was to sell-out the games, which they did, so in their minds, mission accomplished.
    Perhaps, but the 02 Arena was only half full in both games. Did they give a lot of tickets away to various firms and institutions, or ticket packages with heavy discounts?

    I'm sure they did, and it that case the mission accomplishment was self-fulfilling.
    They seemed to have been bought by corporations. The game genuinely sold out as it was impossible to get a ticket for several months before the tournament. However, while the upper tier was completely filled, the lower tier was 50% full at best, which would lead me to believe that they were bought by corporations for employees who weren't interested.

    The NFL game at Wembley was a far bigger success. Everyone in the country seemed to know that that game was on. Even in London, a significant percentage of the population had no idea that the NHL were in town. I think there were several reasons for that:

    1. Wembley was a new building, and everything that went on their became interesting by association. The O2 Arena doesn't have the same appeal.

    2. The NFL is seen as being significantly more glamorous than the NHL by the average British sports fan. The NFL can be seen on the non-specialised channels in the UK and has been for nearly 25 years now.

    3. The NFL are very, very good at marketing. The NHL can't spell marketing.

    Graham.
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  35. #35
    IHF Staff Jazz's Avatar
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    Some quotes over the weekend.

    I thought I'd share this as simple food for thought. Here are some quotes from the Ottawa Senators about NHL expansion to Europe before the 2nd Ottawa-Pittsburgh game on Sunday. There is far from any consensus on this.

    Jason Spezza doesn't think it would work. "I think it will be tough for the league to expand here. Maybe a Champions League-type format, like they have in soccer, but to have a regular season all the time with separate divisions would be a little bit tricky. Obviously the passion is here. The fans are great. But the geography just doesn't work."

    Daniel Alfredsson thinks it would work "I definitely think so. There are probably a few cities that could. Will it happen? Who knows? But I think there is potential. You can't forget about the logistics, however, because that's a big problem, unfortunately."

    Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk "It's happening and it's going to happen. It's just a question of time and how we can set up a schedule. I would be a huge fan of expansion into Europe. I was three or four years ago. And now - absolutely and irrevocably - I am committed that my vote is in for European expansion."

    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "I suppose time will tell. Mr. Melnyk was not voicing an official league position. He may be right, he may be wrong. We know the importance of our game internationally. What I have repeatedly said, which is neither exclusionary or inclusionary of what he said, is we want to develop a more permanent or regular presence in Europe, in particular. Permanent doesn't necessarily mean franchises on the ground any time soon or ever. That might happen at some point of the future. It might not. It's not on the drawing board. But games like these games - last year we did two in London with two teams, this year we're in two cities for four games with four teams - that's something for us to be building on to create regular events for here to connect with our game. Mr. Melnyk may be of the view that it is inevitable, as the world continues to shrink, that we will get to that place, and he may be right, but it isn't consistent with any plans that we've develop or any current intentions we have."

    NHL Players' Association executive director Paul Kelly: "On behalf of the players, I would say that door is very much open. I think in a sport where more than 30 per cent of our players are European and Russian, we need to look forward and recognize that this, of all the major sports, is the one sport that probably could expand into Europe. I don't think it's going to happen in the next few years. You need buildings, you need owners, you need to work on the economics of moving teams and equipment. I mean, it's not easy to produce these games in Prague and Stockholm. We move a lot of people, and it's expensive and time-consuming. I think we need to work out all those logistics, but I think the message here is, and I think it's the message from both of us, that door is definitely not closed, we are studying it. I don't think it's around the corner, but I could see long-term, and I mean in five to 10 years down the road."

    Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs: “At the end of the day, until they can put 20,000 people in an arena as they can in Canada, and average $100 (for tickets) for 40+games - and have that kind of advertising promotion - they’re going to suffer.”

    Don Cherry: “They don’t charge anything for the prices...how are they going to charge the tickets over there? Maybe in Russia with all that oil, all that money. But in Finland, you think they’re going to pay $150 for a ticket? They’re going to be paying guys $9 million (contracts).”

    Toronto Maple Leafs’ coach Ron Wilson, who played and coached in Switzerland, says it won’t fly because fans in European cities such as Stockholm, Prague and Moscow won’t support teams that aren’t mostly stocked with Swedes, Czechs and Russians.

    links: http://www.nationalpost.com/sports/story.html?id=862292 (this link also touches on future of NHL Olympic particiation) and http://www.torontosun.com/sports/200...6/6992866.html

    Bettman's sitting the fence stance is basically because the Board of Governors do not have any consensus themselves on this, and thus he can't say anything one way or the other. This is evidenced by both the Ottawa and Boston owners having opposite views on this.
    On a side note, it has been suggested in the media that Jacob's negative attitude is because he owns some business involved in arena concessions around the league, but that this company probably does not have any deals in Europe. As if we need more evidence of self-serving interests among the owners holding the league back....

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    I didn't see many spare seats in London

  37. #37
    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Marsh View Post
    No it wasn't. I was there and there were not many spare seats. Please get you facts correct.
    Sorry, Michael, but I was at the first of the two games and the lower tier wasn't much more than 50% full. I know of a lot of people around me in the upper tier who actually moved to the lower tier during the game because security had decided not to prevent them due to the amount of empty seats.

    Graham.
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    The 02 looked more than 50% full in the bottom tier. Certainly there were a fair few empty seats about but no where near that extent in my opinion. The 02 is a brand new facility though I do take the point that for Europeans is not as exciting as a stadium as we have much less of an arena culture than North Americans. Really though the 02 was chosen more for its linsk with LA Kings ownership than for London being a hockey city. So London is not the fairest gauge for interest of NHL hockey for Europe.

    MLB I just cannot see it ever expanding to Europe. Yes Japan has a strong interest in the sport but surely expansion into Central America would be the more natural move initially. Certianly many of the countries are not rich but there are enough people with money to put a couple of teams about the area and maybe make it work.

    The NBA do not see to be close to thinking about European expansion. Yes they had some games in London but they were just exhibition I believe. Basketball seems to get more media coverage than ice hockey for the domestic european competitions so would it not arguably nearer to the spectacle than the NHL?

    The NFL I think is the closet to what the NHL can look for as an example. There was the NFL Europe. It eventually disbanded but in some areas was successful. In Germany it seemed to be a hit and teams in Barcelona, Amsterdam and Glasgow didn't seem to pull the same interest. Perhaps in hinesit NFL europe should have just initially gone for Germany and build it up then go for places near it. That way you can at least build up rivalries early on. London v Prague is not going to have any rivalry in hockey. Berlin and Frankfurt on the other hand might. The german market seems to be much more embrassing of North American sports so could the NHL not buy over the DEL? The reason I say this is that it is arguably a comparatable level to the AHL. Perhaps the odd Austrian or Czech team of any country neighbouring Germany could have a team in it. Really though this would be a safer way for the NHL to gain a foothold in Europe. Scandinavia and Russia I think are going to be the last places that they could get onside and only maybe could be a long term ambition.
    There are 30 NHL teams so I would propose either a 10 or 15 team league based in central Europe (primarily Germany). That way each team could be the affiliate of 2 or 3 NHL teams. European prospects could be sent(encouraged) to play in this league and a few old names who perhaps cannot do themselves justice in the NHL but can be a big name and crowd puller in this new league. If many of the top DEL teams got involved and kept their identities there would already be a good fanbase to build with.
    The NHL has 30 teams which is enough whatever they do expansion will not make things better so at least give a minor league in Europe a chance and its a bet they can afford to lose but no need to put their whole foot in the bath and letting it burn.

  39. #39
    IHF Staff Jazz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham View Post
    Sorry, Michael, but I was at the first of the two games and the lower tier wasn't much more than 50% full. I know of a lot of people around me in the upper tier who actually moved to the lower tier during the game because security had decided not to prevent them due to the amount of empty seats.

    Graham.
    Interestingly enough, I remember the situation as this - in Game 1 both tiers looked sold out and full as there was hardly any empty seats while there were quite a few empty seats in the lower tier in Game 2.

    But again, I am going by what the TV showed me (and memory)....I was not there....

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    Quote Originally Posted by buffmatt78 View Post
    I regret to inform you I wouldn't be on board lol....I think it would be cool to watch cross over matches between NHL and top Euro Club teams throughout the season but the NHL is Lord Stanley and Lord Stanley is the NHL... Im sure Euro fans feel the same way about there cups. it just brings back a bad feeling in my stomach, the same feeling me and millions of CND's felt when Baltimore in its second, and last season ever, won the CFL's (yes Canadian Football Leagues) Grey Cup in 95 from my Stampeders. the thought of our trophy on US soil was hard enough I couldn't amagine it across the pond. I would support a one week allstar break mid season where each division leader, being 6 teams in total earn the right to travel the pond and play 2 cross over games each against respected top Euro teams and a small vacation paid by the NHL, alternating each year between NA and Europe(no trophy)just for the fans. 12 crossover games would give me my fix.
    The Stanley Cup is the ultimate prize for all hockey players, it has to be the cup. Quick history note the Cup was originally for the top team in Canada!!!! To say now that it is okay for the Cup to be Anaheim, Tampa Bay or Carolina and not MOscow or Stockholm is just foolish.

    BTW Karsten that is one of the best scenario's I have read. BUt I have to agree with other posters; existing clubs will not have to give up top players. Montreal does not get the best French Canadian players, but I think Montreal is a good example of what european clubs may look like in terms of keeping your own. They bring in as many as possible and always have rumors that the best Quebecers will be traded or sign sign at "home".

    I think an expansion draft and the right to keep existing players that do not have their rights owned by an existing NHL team would likely be how they go about filling the rosters.

    To keep the level up since the league would expand to 36 what do you think of shronking rosters to 17 from 22, 9 forwards, 6 defense and 2 goalies?

  41. #41
    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beaver Fever View Post
    The Stanley Cup is the ultimate prize for all hockey players, it has to be the cup. Quick history note the Cup was originally for the top team in Canada!!!! To say now that it is okay for the Cup to be Anaheim, Tampa Bay or Carolina and not MOscow or Stockholm is just foolish.
    Actually, many players from outside of North America will likely tell you the ultimate prize is an Olympic Gold medal...

    And it's more a matter of whether an NHL club can survive in a European market fulltime, than whether the city can claim a Cup champion or not. Europe has its own championship in place, where the victor plays against an NHL club (which I wish was the Stanley Cup champion).

    Though I just considered one more reason why the NHL is loathe to send their champion to the Victoria Cup: when you think about it, wouldn't that then supplant the Stanley Cup with the Victoria Cup as the ultimate prize in club hockey?

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    Though I just considered one more reason why the NHL is loathe to send their champion to the Victoria Cup: when you think about it, wouldn't that then supplant the Stanley Cup with the Victoria Cup as the ultimate prize in club hockey?
    Oh, but it's just an exhibition, Steigs. Didn't you get Gary's memo?

    Good point though, but they'll always say "meaningless exhibition."
    Bringing ice hockey to Northwest China!

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  43. #43
    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KazakhEagles View Post
    Oh, but it's just an exhibition, Steigs. Didn't you get Gary's memo?

    Good point though, but they'll always say "meaningless exhibition."
    Meaningless until European hockey fans look at it as a true world championship which superseeds the Stanley Cup final. Then it'll stop being meaningless, and the NHL will feel threatened and pull out.
    That'll probably happen after they lose a game or two. Still a few years off (assuming the NHL doesn't just ditch it before that happens, in Their Almighty Wisdom).

  44. #44
    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    And it's more a matter of whether an NHL club can survive in a European market fulltime, than whether the city can claim a Cup champion or not.
    100% agree. Look at the straight financials of the situation for an average hockey fan in, say, Sweden.

    I have got a ticket for New York Islanders at Montreal next month. The ticket is costing me the equivalent of 835 SEK. Now, I accept that I have bought an expensive ticket and that there were cheaper options (but, first time at the Bell Centre, I wanted a good seat!), but there is a significant percentage of seats at the Bell Centre at this price. For the NHL to be able to exist within Sweden, it will also need to have a significant percentage of tickets sold at this price.

    I've just checked the Globen's website, and the equivalent ticket for the DIF v Timra game on the same night is 225 SEK.

    Then there are another 3 factors to take into account:

    1. Granted this is not scientific, but a quick check on one of the cost of living websites reckons that entertainment is generally 3.5% more expensive in Stockholm than it is in Montreal. Therefore, that Montreal ticket would now be 860 SEK.

    2. NHL teams play 41 times at home each season. Therefore, that seat in the Forum is generating 35260 SEK a regular season at it's Sweden-adjusted price. The Swedish teams play a maximum of 28 games at home each season. Therefore, that seat is only generating 6300 SEK a year.

    3. That rise of nearly 560% a year for each seat does not tell the whole story. The cost of a seat is to help recover all team costs for the year, including travelling. At present, the Swedish travel budget is reasonably low since they never leave their country. Even if we assume a European NHL team never plays a North American NHL team, that travel budget is going to increase significantly. As a result, prices are going to have to go up significantly.

    So, the question is, as Steigs noted, while a hockey fan may be prepared to pay 5 or 6 times the price of their normal ticket for a one-off, are they prepared to pay 7 or 8 times a season? Can you really argue that the NHL is 7 or 8 times better than the SEL?

    I would also argue one step further. Not only aren't they prepared to keep doing this, I'd also argue that they are only prepared to watch so many neutral venue games before the familiarity prevent them from being prepared to spend that sort of money.

    And all of the above doesn't take other factors into consideration such as loss of advertising revenue (from not having shirt sponsors), the fact that the Globen has 7154 fewer seats to generate revenue than the Bell Centre and that players are going to ask for far more money to play in Sweden due to the 1% wealth tax...

    Graham.
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  45. #45
    IHF Member ElQuapo's Avatar
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    Graham :

    I agree with most of your points, but you are forgetting season tickets - a seat does not generate a one-game price times the number of home games, as many seats are season-ticket seats.

  46. #46
    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    Agreed, but that is why I quote the change as percentage increases in my final point. While it is true that a season ticket at the Habs is not 41*835 SEK, it is also true that a season ticket for DIF is not 28 * 225 SEK. Also, a season ticket for DIF is currently for 28 games which would have to increase by a further 13 games for an equivalent NHL season ticket. As a result, the fact that it is already a 6-fold increase for that single game ticket, I believe (without having access to season ticket costs for a true comparison) would also result in a 6-fold increase for the equivalent season ticket for a similar duration of season.

    Therefore, I believe that the argument still holds; you are still asking Swedish hockey fans to pay 6 times more than they are at present, regardless of how they buy their tickets, (and my gut feeling is that it would be even more than that for the reasons I listed earlier). So, to make that sales pitch from the NHL work, you have to be providing them with a level of entertainment that is in the region of being 6 times greater than the SEL. Granted, for season ticket holders, some may feel that they would have a greater level of entertainment simply because of the increase in games. But, even then, I'd question how many would think that a 41-game NHL season is that much better than a 28-game SEL season.

    Graham.
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  47. #47
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    "The Stanley Cup is the ultimate prize for all hockey players."

    It is the ultimate professional hockey achievement, whereas Olympic gold is the ultimate achievement if one is playing for one's nation rather than club team.

    "Though I just considered one more reason why the NHL is loathe to send their champion to the Victoria Cup: when you think about it, wouldn't that then supplant the Stanley Cup with the Victoria Cup as the ultimate prize in club hockey?" ........ "Oh, but it's just an exhibition, Steigs. Didn't you get Gary's memo?"

    Damn it, guys, my team is the Victoria Cup champion!!!!! Stop downgrading the Rangers' glorious victory!

    Seriously, I AM glad the Rangers won it, but there's no banner being raised at Madison Square Garden to celebrate the achievement. There are no commemorative t-shirts or hats being offered for sale to Rangers fans.

    The Rangers have the same attitude towards it as the NHL - the viewpoint is that it can never mean anything close to the Stanley Cup, or even mean as much as any NHL regular season game, because the NHL is the world's best league, and it wasn't won against an NHL team.

    To be honest, the majority of Rangers fans don't even know it took place, beyond the fact that many heard that "the Rangers played some pre-season games in Switzerland this year."

    "Can you really argue that the NHL is 7 or 8 times better than the SEL?"

    Err.........after watching Linkopings against ZSC Lions, I'd say an emphatic yes.

    On a serious note, I think the NHL expanding to Europe would be a disaster and a failure.

    Perhaps even more of a disaster if it were to succeed and kill European hockey with its many proud leagues, clubs and traditions.

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    World Elite League

    What about a true World Elite League with 12 teams from North America and 12 teams from Europe. The winner of North America plays the winner of Europe. The teams would play with 22 man rosters. Teams from Europe have only 7 spots on their roster for North Americans and teams from North America have 7 open spots for Europeans. This would drown out the struggling markets in the NHL and be a more exciting brand of hockey as their would be more star players per team. It would also allow for what I have always wanted to see...A domestic elite league in both Canada and the USA.

  49. #49
    IHF Staff Graham's Avatar
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    But that still doesn't address the issue that European fans would rather compete against regional rivals, regardless of the talent on the ice. After all, games don't need talent to be exciting...

    Graham.
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    This is from an NHL state of the economy meeting this week. Despite some pretty dark economic forecasts, the interest in Europe remains - in this case the Champions League.

    Interestingly, one of the only issues discussed that wasn't directly related to the economy involved the league getting more involved in Europe.

    The owners gave the thumbs-up to investigating the possibility of investing in the Champions Hockey League - a tournament contested between club teams on the continent that is currently in its inaugural season. That idea is likely years from reaching reality, but the NHL is clearly in no position to ignore anything that could lead to more revenue.

    ''It's a tournament they have over there, the question is where would we be as part of that?'' said Colin Campbell, the NHL's director of hockey operations. ''They like what we have as far as our structure, our history, but what do we bring to them? It's not something (the governors) said no to.

    ''It's interesting, the owners found it interesting.''


    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=2589...=topStory_main

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