SBD/Jan. 17, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Asks Six Teams To Open '11-12 Season In Europe

Alex Ovechkin, Capitals could begin next NHL season in Moscow
The Capitals, Ducks, Kings, Oilers, Rangers and Sabres have been asked by the NHL to "partake in next season's Premiere Games" in Europe, according to sources cited by Pierre LeBrun of The six teams "still haven't signed off on it and are contemplating the league invite." The "tentative plan is for six NHL games in six cities." The Rangers played in Europe in '08, but a source said that it "makes sense for the Rangers to go again since Madison Square Garden, undergoing impressive renovations/improvements next summer, won't be ready for the Rangers until mid-October." LeBrun noted "perhaps the most intriguing possibility is the Caps playing a game in Moscow." LeBrun: "You know how much Washington captain Alex Ovechkin would love that" (, 1/15).

TEAM-BY-TEAM: In Buffalo, John Vogl noted the NHL's "main desire with the Premiere Games is to grow the game outside North America," so Sabres LW Jochen Hecht, who is from Germany, and Sabres LW Thomas Vanek, a native of Austria, playing in Europe "presumably would be a bonus for the European fans and the Sabres" (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/16). In Edmonton, Jim Matheson noted the Oilers have "never pushed that European envelope until now, with the emergence" of LWs Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark, who are both from Sweden. The Oilers presumably would be "most attractive to play in Stockholm." Oilers GM Steve Tambellini: "We certainly support the league and their initiatives and would embrace such an opportunity. But it's a league decision and the talking is certainly in the very preliminary stage" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/16). Meanwhile, in Calgary, Eric Francis reported the Flames "were asked by the NHL" to be one of the six teams, but the Flames "respectfully opted out." Flames President & CEO Ken King: "We need to focus on what's important and get ourselves back on track" (CALGARY SUN, 1/16).
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