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North American Hockey In A Crisis, KHL Should Step In

from Alexei Bayer of The Moscow Times,

Even though the NHL is still the most prestigious hockey competition, hockey in North America is in crisis. The NHL has been convulsed by regular strikes and player lockouts. But there are deeper problems. In North America, hockey is played on narrow rinks, where big, fast defensemen make it very difficult to skate. Goal cages are too small for huge goalies wearing wide light-weight equipment. With the exception of the four-on-four overtime, NHL games have turned into boring, grinding, low-scoring contests between huge men on skates elbowing each other along the boards. No wonder it is the least popular of the four major team sports in the U.S.

"European" hockey is played on wider surfaces. It is a beautiful, swift game where skating and passing are at a premium. It certainly has a better chance to win worldwide following — if only it can get the right leadership.

Russia is uniquely positioned to provide such leadership. Hockey stars are, along with hydrocarbons and weapons, its only world-class export. In 2008, Russia used its bulk and resources to form a Eurasian league, the KHL, which next year will have teams from 7 neighboring countries, including some hockey powerhouses. A team from Vladivostok will also enter the competition. This may become a gateway to the Far East, and professional clubs may be soon organized in Japan, South Korea, China and even Alaska. American kids, for example, started playing hockey long after NHL clubs appeared in U.S. cities.

What Russia needs is to view the KHL as a purely commercial undertaking and not a national one. It should pattern its business model on the NHL. As matters now stand, the KHL is excessively Russia-centered. Even its main trophy, the Gagarin Cup, has nothing to do with hockey and everything with Russia's chip-on-the-shoulder nationalism and outdated patriotism.

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Filed in: NHL Talk, Non-NHL Hockey, European Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: khl

Comments

Evilpens's avatar

NAH we don’t want Russian Mafia & KGB agents involved

Posted by Evilpens on 05/26/13 at 12:24 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

1 players’ strike. 1992. Over hockey card and picture licensing right before the industry blossomed in the early 90’s and peaked in the late 90’s. No others.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/26/13 at 01:28 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

Thanks George. You beat me to it.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 05/26/13 at 04:06 PM ET

Avatar

Don’t even know where to begin with this.

-Author calls the business model broken, then wants to emulate it.

-Author criticizes the NHL’s labor strife, but ignores that the reason the KHL does not have similar labor strife is that it functions by fiat, not collective bargaining. Fiat rule results in lower quality of living and compensation for the vast majority of workers than negotiations between a union and a cartel. So until the KHL sets up a similar system (which comes with similar labor disputes) and grants similar rights and compensation to its players, the KHL cannot compete for players apart from isolated instances. And even if it did all this, it lacks the revenue streams to compete.

1 players’ strike. 1992. Over hockey card and picture licensing right before the industry blossomed in the early 90’s and peaked in the late 90’s. No others.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/26/13 at 01:28 PM ET

Hope this is a reference to the “hockey card industry” and not the NHL, considering the late 90s to 2004 represented the NHL’s nadir in the modern era, not its zenith. Game was nearly unwatchable and it’s ratings would come to reflect that..

Posted by larry on 05/26/13 at 04:35 PM ET

Avatar

Aren’t games on big ice generally lower scoring and widely considered less exciting given that the bigger ice surface means more outside play, and more soccer like tactics?

Posted by jkrdevil on 05/26/13 at 05:15 PM ET

UMFan's avatar

Aren’t games on big ice generally lower scoring and widely considered less exciting given that the bigger ice surface means more outside play, and more soccer like tactics?

That is what I’ve always heard. I’ve always thought to make it optimal for the size and speed of todays players that you split the difference between the two. It doesn’t sound like much when you increase the width say three feet or so on each side, but I think it might improve space for the players without sacrificing the hitting and the physical play of the north amearican ice.

Posted by UMFan from Denver, Colorado on 05/26/13 at 11:17 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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