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Volume 25 No. 177
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NHL, Union Both Agree There Will Be Teams In Europe One Day

Last month's Global Series in Helsinki furthered the NHL's confidence in Europe
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The NHL and the NHLPA both agree that there "will be European teams in the NHL one day," and the "only question is when," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. NHLPA Exec Dir Don Fehr said, "It would be a real positive statement to create the first really trans-ocean league. I think it would be an extraordinary achievement for everybody. Whether it will happen in my tenure remains to be seen, but hopefully sooner or later." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has been saying lately that "expansion to Europe is inevitable." He said that the only way it can work is if an "entire division of teams, probably a minimum of four, is added." Daly added that he "does not think European expansion will happen 'in the short- to medium-term but with continued growth in the sport, franchises in Europe at some point are probably inevitable.'" Fehr said, "The sooner the better, provided it can be done right. You don’t want to rush it ... you don’t want to do it before the capital is committed, the schedule is worked out, all the rest of it." Shoalts notes travel is the "most obvious problem, which is why the NHL is looking at adding an entire division of teams" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/13).

RESOLVING THE ISSUES: YAHOO SPORTS' Steven Psihogios notes issues that the NHL would be dealing with in addition to travel are "appropriate ticket pricing, NHL-capacity venues, and negotiating with hockey teams operating in destination markets." However, the league "doesn’t view any of these concerns to be deal breakers." Daly said that global participation is "peaking and that this move would be met by a lot of interest" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/13). SPORTSNET.ca's Sonny Sachdeva noted another issue with European expansion is the "drastic alteration to the schedule that would come with basing one or more teams in Europe." However, Fehr believes that a "workable arrangement is possible." He said, "I actually, several years ago ... worked out a schedule with 30 teams, where you could have five based in Europe. And my memory is each European team would come to North America twice. Each North American team would go to Europe once" (SPORTSNET.ca, 11/12).

CHECK THE BOXES FIRST: In Toronto, Kevin McGran notes the NHL is "gunning for a World Cup" in the fall of '20. However, the league said that it "needs to have a deal for it in place" with the NHLPA by the "end of January." The current CBA expires in '22, but both sides "have a right to open it" in '20. Each side has to tell the other its intentions by next September, but the league said that it "needs word sooner than that for World Cup purposes." The NHL is "reluctant to go ahead with any planning or marketing of another World Cup unless it has assurances from the NHLPA the event won’t be affected by labour issues." The two sides have been talking, with Fehr suggesting that a "commitment to the World Cup is 'severable' from CBA talks at large" (TORONTO STAR, 11/13).