Deal For NHL To Open '11-12 Season In Russia Appears To Be Dead
It appears that a plan for the Capitals and Rangers to kick off the '11-12 NHL season with games in Russia "is dead," according to Dmitry Chesnokov of YAHOO SPORTS. The plan was for two NHL teams to "play exhibition games against KHL clubs, and then open the NHL season with two games -- one in Moscow and another one in St. Petersburg." But KHL President Alexander Medvedev told the Russia Today TV Channel, "It looks like that we will not see such matches next season. And we have only one reason that the NHL due to their, sort of say, exclusively business-like approach." KHL sources indicated that the "reason there will be no NHL teams in Russia this season" was the NHL's revenue guarantee request. The NHL reportedly asked for a guarantee of $2-3M, and the KHL "saw it as unreasonable because of simple economics -- the Russian league would not be able to break even due to Russian hockey economic streams." Asked for a response, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, "I am not prepared to disclose the substance of our discussions, but I will confirm that the discussions did not result in an agreement to bring NHL teams to Russia for next year." Chesnokov noted at "one point the optimism was so high" that a Rangers representative traveled to Russia to discuss the plans. Sources said that Medvedev and another KHL official "met with the NHL in New York last month to try to salvage the deal," but talks "didn't progress" at the most recent meetings (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/23).
OPENING IN SWEDEN? In N.Y., Jesse Spector reports Stockholm, Sweden, "appears almost certain to be where the Rangers will begin the 2011-12 campaign." Even as a deal between the NHL and KHL for a Rangers-Capitals opener in Moscow or St. Petersburg appeared close last month, a source said Sweden was "still in play." The Rangers "have to start the season away from home because of the renovations" at MSG. Sweden is a "good fit for the Rangers not only because" it is the home nation of G Henrik Lundqvist, but because of the "popularity there of Norwegian winger Mats Zuccarello, who was voted MVP of the Swedish Elite League" last season (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/24).