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Into the Great Unknown: A Look at European Expansion

This is something that could definitely be applied to the National Hockey League and European Expansion.

As most hockey fans are aware of, the league has been displaying its game in Europe to kickoff the season for the past few years now. The NHL has had games in Prague, Sweden, and many other countries abroad to help grow the game and show that their league is the best hockey league in the world.

With that in mind, one has to wonder if the league would ever consider expanding into Europe. Here are some reasons why that would be a good idea:

- Would Help Grow the Game: As most hockey fans know, their sport is not very popular, especially in the United States. By expanding into Europe, the league would be able to showcase the best players in the world and show that their hockey is the best kind of hockey around. It would more than likely become popular abroad and may be that would translate back to North America as well.

- Would Enhance the Competitive Aspect of the Game: Even when NHL teams are playing preseason games abroad, the non-NHL teams are trying to show the world that they can beat a National Hockey League team. If the NHL ever expanded into Europe, this would create more competitiveness and also make games a lot more interesting as both clubs would be playing for pride.

- Would Be A Return Home: It would give players a chance to play games in their home country in front of their family and friends. The NHL has an abundance of Europeans currently playing in the NHL so this would be a good way for them to play where they grew up.

Obviously, when there is the good, there is also the bad:

- Travel: Having games overseas would clearly impact travel. It would be tough to travel overseas, play a game or two and then come back to North America and play more without much of a rest.

- Viewing: It would be tough for die-hard fans to watch their favorite teams due to the time difference. Obviously, fans can now follow the game online but if they wanted to watch it live, they would have to miss work/school/etc.

The NHL may be far from doing something like this but it is always fun to imagine the “what if’s”, especially when it comes to the sport that we all know and love.

What do you folks think?

Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
  Tags: europe, nhl

Comments

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I want to see hockey grow. I think it is a great game but I don’t agree w the statement if it went to Europe that the popularity would translate back to the US. Soccer is popular in Europe but has never translated its popularity to the US. I think logistics would make it prohibitive to do it on a constant basis but maybe they can do something either early in season.

Posted by Maggie from chicago on 10/09/11 at 10:23 AM ET

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I believe the two Againsts you listed above are quite enough reason why this will never ever happen ever. Ever.

The travelling simply wouldn’t work, which is where it all begins and ends. The earth IS round and while that is very inconvenient in this particular case because of natural time zones, it will not change anytime soon. Another thing that will also not happen anytime soon (I hope) is the abolition of time zones and implementation of a single common time zone all over earth. Although it might be argued that us northern europeans live in darkness half our lives anyway so we wouldn’t notice if we had to do it during summer as well.

The only possible solution would be to have more or less completely separate conferences (or continentiferences), where the teams from different continents only meet each other during the playoffs (road trips as they already exist in the NHL would be impossibly big undertakings, teams would have to be away for something like 10 games minimum for it to be worth the time-zone switch. During this time, they can only play opponents from the continent they are currently on, and only half of those will be there because the other half will be away on roadtrips on the continent the first team has just left…and at the same time, the team’s fans can’t watch the game unless they are retired or unemployed, basically, and can sit up all night). This all translates into “meh”.

Posted by Mr. Fnytelhatt on 10/09/11 at 12:41 PM ET

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Also in the negative is that the laws in regards to collective bargaining are completely different in Europe. The draft and restricted free agency would be rendered illegal.

Posted by jkrdevil on 10/09/11 at 04:44 PM ET

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Too big a stretch to even fantasize about.

Posted by Middleyard from Sweden on 10/09/11 at 08:06 PM ET

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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.

Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.

For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com.