Saturday, September 13, 2008
William Houston has an interesting piece up concerning the NHL's attempt to expand to Europe, at least-- that's what Bill Daly is saying. Daly said that within 10 years, it's a good possibility that there could be some regular NHL action in Europe. As far as reaction goes, it depends on how you see it. Jim Rutherford, GM of the Carolina Hurricanes, said that as long as the support and stability is there, he would see no problem in the expansion. Color-blind Pierre McGuire said that the time is right for European Expansion because of the amount of Euros in the NHL now.
You almost have to wonder if the inevitability is there for the European expansion and if it's a more of a "when" rather and "if" situation. Yet, at the same time-- why would bypass markets in your own continent that could succeed in order to fast track some European pipe dream?? Granted, the brass of the NHL hasn't been known for smart maneuvers when it comes to expansion placement, but what can ya do??
When you look at the marketplace and where the NHL would put teams in Europe, I think Rutherford can rest easy in the fact that the NHL would pick places that have a history of succeeding on the ice, as well as on the balance sheet.
However, the question I'd like to pose is whether or not the European clubs would want to join the NHL?? Okay, maybe it's not the clubs themselves, but the league that could be affected. If the Swedish Elite League loses a team like MoDo, that would be a disaster for the league because of the prestige that MoDo brings to the league. So, should the NHL expansion to Europe doesn't work-- not only would it ruin the big dream for the NHL, it would more than likely ruin hockey leagues throughout Europe should it fail. For the globalization of hockey, that would just be a horrible blow to the sport.
Granted, this is basically the "Space Race" all over again, but this time, it's the "Rink Race" (patent pending). Because the KHL has said they would want to go into Western Europe for expansion in the next couple of seasons, the NHL may feel that their talent pool could be threatened by the move west. Therefore, they are trying to trump the Russians and get into the markets that could bring the best talent to NHL Europe....and maybe seep into the NHL North America.
In the end, Rutherford is right, there needs to be teams put into markets like Winnipeg, another team in Ontario, and then maybe get back into Kansas City before going across the Atlantic to find teams. It'll bring in more fans where you need them most, plus if you mess it up-- there's not an international incident to come from it. There's no need to go out of your way to find some markets when there are markets in North America that are more than willing to take a team in their city.