SBD/April 8, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Nixes Premiere Games For '13-14; Talks Turn To Reviving World Cup Of Hockey

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Premiere Games opened five consecutive NHL seasons beginning in '07-08
The '13-14 NHL season will begin "without Premiere Games in Europe," according to Larry Brooks of the N.Y. POST. The future of the Premiere Games, which opened five consecutive seasons beginning in '07-08, will "become part of the broader conversation between the league and the union regarding a comprehensive international program." Those discussions would include "reviving the World Cup of Hockey as a midseason tournament to be played every four years between Olympics, thus guaranteeing a defined cycle of international best-on-best competition with which to showcase the sport." The issue at hand is "how to maximize and divide those profits through television and marketing agreements in order to turn the World Cup into a worthy endeavor beyond its aesthetic core value." A World Cup played in North America’s "largest media markets -- with the Finals at the Garden, naturally -- during the two-week down time in the pro sports calendar immediately following the Super Bowl would be a smash hit for the sport and the NHL." With the World Cup and the Premiere Games "on the table, it is also time for the NHL and NHLPA to begin exploration of expansion into Europe or the adoption of a limited interlocking schedule with leagues in Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic" (N.Y. POST, 4/7). 

MEETING OF THE MINDS: The CBC’s Glenn Healy reported the various parties involved in the negotiations to continue sending NHL players to the Olympics are meeting Friday, which is when the subject of insurance costs will be introduced. The CBC's Elliotte Friedman said he spoke to somebody in the insurance industry "and he said that we’ve never seen anything like this, nothing compared to this in hockey before, with the amount of guaranteed contracts” of the players that could play at the '14 Sochi Games. Friedman: “The bill for the entire Canadian team, not to mention the rest of the teams, is going to be enormous, and I think that’s going to be the big question.” Friedman said the players and the league “would like it to be the IOC and IIHF” paying the insurance bill for the players. Healy said it cost $580M in ‘10 “for the players in Canada." Meanwhile, Healy noted the "bigger issue for the (NHLPA) is that you’ve 700 guests of NHL players that have no transportation to the venue," and it is a "35-minute walk” to the arena ("HNIC," CBC, 4/6). YAHOO SPORTS' Nick Cotsonika noted the hang-up for the various parties "goes beyond" the insurance issue. It includes "branding and media rights for the NHL, access to venues for NHL officials and families, and transportation to and from Sochi." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "would not provide detail of how much progress has been made so far." He said, "There are lots of issues. This doesn’t get done until all the essential elements get done, and so it doesn’t pay to focus on any one or two issues" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/7).
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