September 12, 2008
Funny how news cycles work. On the same day the Associated Press publishes a pro-KHL article that quotes "a dean of European ice hockey writing" as saying Europe sees "the league as a challenge to the NHL in the future," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly tells William Houston of the Globe & Mail that NHL expansion into Europe is a possibility "within 10 years time."
Houston's article is a must-read for any hockey policy wonk, as Daly goes into more detail about the enormous economic (say, those are some strange tax codes and labor laws you have over there) and geographic challenges facing the NHL's European
Vacation expansion. Pierre McGuire even predicts that European NHL division champs may, in fact, play for the Stanley Cup. Boy, if you thought it steamed Canadians when Tampa Bay won the Chalice, imagine if Moscow goes on a run ...
Of course, it's easier to envision a mission to Mars in 2018 than it is to picture what hockey will look like globally by then, thanks to the KHL and the influx of non-North American talent into the NHL. We may bristle now at the idea of an NHL franchise in a foreign locale like Helsinki, but that fails to take into account that in 10 years we'll all have flying cars powered by Alaskan natural gas and T. Boone Pickens energon cubes.
Once more, with feeling: All of these new European hockey leagues are indirect pleas for the NHL to one day absorb them and create a global league. They're the USFL on skates; everyone wants to be a part of the NHL, and they're going to make life uncomfortable until we have one massive worldwide hockey organization.
Meanwhile, we wonder what the fans in Winnipeg and Hartford think about the NHL spending more time talking about bringing a franchise to Switzerland than giving those cities the same second chance Denver and Atlanta received.