SBD/Issue 85/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NHLPA's Kelly Supports Exploring European Expansion For NHL

Kelly Says NHL Should
Test European Market
NHL officials are "vague when it comes to talk of expansion or relocation," but NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly said there is a "great deal of enthusiasm and a real market for the NHL game in Europe," according to Kevin McGran of the TORONTO STAR. Kelly noted that "relocating weak teams -- perhaps putting a second team in Toronto, or one in Hamilton or Winnipeg -- within North America is more likely in the short term than locating a team in Europe." But he said the NHL has to "really test this market and determine whether or not it would be viable to put a couple of NHL franchises over there." Kelly: "You need to continue to look short term and long term. We have to look for growth opportunities in the coming years, which means bigger markets, better television deals. We have a natural market in most of Europe." Kelly "sees more NHL training camps and regular-season games overseas ... as well as a reborn World Cup, now expected in 2011, as the measuring sticks for interest before the leap to expansion." But Hockey Europe President & GM Jukka-Pekka Vuorinen said, "We don't see any reason for the NHL to play permanently in Europe. It will not be wise for the NHL. (There are no) economical reasons or marketing reasons." The IIHF said that the NHL "would fail miserably, citing the fact that the NFL pulled the plug on its money-losing European league and saying the NHL would be seen as an interloper." IIHF President Rene Fasel: "It would be a potential disaster for this NHL's European division. I don't think anyone right now has the means to lose so much money" (TORONTO STAR, 1/21). MLIVE.com's George James Malik writes, “Somehow, I don't believe that an NHL team would succeed in all but the largest of European markets, and I don't believe that playing for such a team would be appealing in any way, shape, or form to players or coaches who'd face month-long road trips and enormous jet lag” (MLIVE.com, 1/21).

DROPPING THE GLOVES: Red Wings GM Ken Holland indicated that it is "time for the NHL to open its mind and ask tough questions" about fighting in hockey "because things have changed." The GLOBE & MAIL's Allan Maki notes there have been "shifts and nagging trends" in fighting in the NHL, and "most definitely, they caught Holland's eyes." Holland: "Two regular players that are comfortable in fisticuffs, they're trained in it, if they fight, the fans love it. What you worry about is the size of the players now. ... We have younger, stronger players and they're more powerful. We need to ask whether helmets should be on or off (during fights), whether fighting should be allowed, if you fight once, do you get ejected after a second fight? Because of the physical nature of the game, it's a major discussion point. And there should be discussion." Maki writes it is "time for the NHL to address, seriously and thoughtfully, the heightened risks of fighting." Just because it has "always been a part of the game isn't a good enough reason to stay the course" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/21). The GLOBE & MAIL's William Houston notes Coyotes Managing Partner & coach Wayne Gretzky recently suggested that a "penalty be called for tripping or throwing down an opponent during a fight." But CBC hockey analyst Don Cherry Saturday on "Hockey Night in Canada" said that "he was 'very, very disappointed' in Wayne Gretzky for 'sticking his nose' into a subject he knows nothing about." Houston writes it is "hardly surprising," given Cherry's remarks, that other hockey broadcasters "keep their views to themselves or throw their support behind fighting" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/21).

Schultz Says Wild Players Do Not Think It
Would Be A Good Idea To Reopen CBA
TO OPEN OR NOT TO OPEN? Wild D and player rep Nick Schultz said of the NHLPA's vote tomorrow on whether to reopen the CBA, "The consensus on our team was, we didn't think it was a good idea to reopen it. That has not changed. With the way the economy is right now, I don't think it's in anyone's best interest to shut it down. I just can't see that happening. Now, I don't know if they have other ideas, but this is our feeling." Schultz indicated that "relocation is the biggest issue" facing the league. Schultz: "If there are teams in different markets that need to be moved, we don't have a say in that. I think there needs to be a bigger partnership where players have more of a say. We supply the product, and if we're in markets where it doesn't matter how good the product is or how good the team is doing, then it's something that needs to be looked at as far as moving to a different and better location" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/21). In Toronto, Damien Cox notes the '11 World Cup of Hockey, which the NHL and NHLPA recently agreed to bring back, would take place "right before the current CBA expires, assuming the players do as everyone expects and don't re-open the arrangement beforehand." Both the NHL and NHLPA already are "girding for another protracted fight, and so are more than willing to stage another World Cup to raise funds for that very purpose" (THESTAR.com, 1/20).

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