NHL Planning To Have Four Teams Open Next Season In Europe
The NHL's "original plan to have six of its teams open the regular season overseas next season has been downsized to four," according to sources cited by Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com. The Oilers and Capitals, part of the "original six teams asked to go over, are no longer in the mix." The Rangers, Kings, Ducks and Sabres "remain slated to open next season in Europe." LeBrun reported Stockholm, Helsinki and Berlin will be "in the Premiere Games mix as host cities next fall." Talks between the KHL and NHL "have fallen through and there won't be any Premiere Games in Russia as originally hoped." That is why Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals are "no longer in the Premiere Games mix." They were "only a fit if Ovechkin could play a game in his home country." While KHL President Alexander Medvedev last week said that the NHL "had asked for too much money and that's why the games are a no-go," sources said that "another reason for the collapse in talks was that Medvedev was 'resistant' to the notion of two NHL teams playing each other in Russia." Instead, Medvedev "wanted the two NHL teams to face off against KHL clubs" (ESPN.com, 3/26). NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated that a "key reason for the lack of agreement on exhibition games was the contentious game" between KHL club SKA St. Petersburg and the Hurricanes last October. The Hurricanes pulled C Eric Staal from the game because coach Paul Maurice said SKA players "were getting awfully close to his knees." Daly, when asked if the deal "fell through because of what happened on or off the ice," replied, "The former" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/27).