The Kontinental Hockey League canceled two regular-season games at Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Barclays Center that were scheduled for January, according to RT.com. The games scheduled for Jan. 19-20 would have featured Gagarin Cup holders Dynamo Moscow and the big-spending SKA St. Petersburg. The KHL altered its decision, saying that "the ongoing NHL lockout made it difficult to host the games." The KHL said on its website: "Meeting the wishes of thousands of Russian hockey fans, considering the interests of the teams Dynamo Moscow and SKA and due to the lack of certainty with the NHL lockout length, the KHL decided to change the dates of games between the teams scheduled for January 19 and 20." The "revised schedule now says that Dynamo will travel to St. Petersburg on Jan. 20 and host SKA in Moscow two days later" (RT.com, 10/27). QMI AGENCY noted the reason for the cancelation "wasn't clear." It would seem that "if the NHL was still in lockout mode, the games in Brooklyn would have provided the KHL with a big boost in visibility and media coverage" (QMI AGENCY, 10/27). YAHOO! SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote in "many ways, the vast majority of European players would rather be playing in the NHL than the KHL or anywhere else right now." They are "just visiting these leagues." But there also is a "reason a few European players have threatened to stay home if the NHL cuts their pay dramatically." In North America, they "feel like visitors culturally, and the NHL's advantage as a league, while still large, isn't quite as large as it used to be." Senators D Sergei Gonchar said, "Playing over here, it's much more enjoyable now than it was. To be honest with you, I'm enjoying it here. For me, it goes either way (if the entire NHL season is canceled). I like it here. I enjoy my teammates. We have a great team. So I don't care" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/27).
Events and Attractions
Japanese figure skaters will take part in the Cup of China this week as planned, "despite fears of simmering anti-Japan sentiment in the host country," according to the AFP. Japan Skating Federation President Seiko Hashimoto said, "The Chinese skating federation, wishing to host as many international competitions as possible, has told us it will put its prestige on ensuring safety." Hashimoto added that the federation has determined it is "all right" to send its skaters to the third leg of this year's Grand Prix series in Shanghai Friday through Sunday. Skaters may only compete in two of the season's six Grand Prix events, "and missing the Cup of China would have made it difficult for the Japanese to make December's Grand Prix final featuring the top six points scorers in each category" (AFP, 10/29).
The NFL New England Patriots-St. Louis Rams game in London Sunday marked the NFL’s sixth int'l game at Wembley Stadium with 84,004 fans “on hand to see these two teams play,” according to Field Yates of ESPN.com. Whether an NFL team ever is placed in London “remains to be seen, but the NFL certainly has had its share of success in hosting these annual games” (ESPN.com, 10/28). ESPN.com's Field Yates reported that Fans in attendance “showed boisterous support throughout the game, including plenty of cheers for the Patriots, who were technically the ‘road’ team during the neutral-site affair.” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said, "You heard a lot of back and forth cheering in the game, when normally it's one way or the other.” He added, “Wembley Stadium is obviously big, almost cavernous there with that slight opening up on top. The lighting is a little bit different. It's a big crowd, a good crowd. They were in to the game" (ESPN.com, 10/28). In St. Louis, Jim Thomas wrote the pregame buildup “had the feel of a mini-Super Bowl.” Despite the Patriots 45-7 victory over the Rams, almost “all of the fans hung in there till the end.” The crowd was “pro-New England, but not as much as anticipated.” During “lulls in the action, the Wave made a European appearance.” Rams CB Cortland Finnegan said, "I enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed it." Rams LB James Laurinaitis said, "London treated us great" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/29).
LONDON FRANCHISE VIABLE?: SI.com’s Jon Wertheim noted Sunday’s game “sold out, and most of the 84,000 fans appeared to be confused, bemused and ultimately enthused.” Most fans were “somewhere in the middle,” as it was “not a gripping game, but a gripping spectacle.” The NFL “ought to be pleased, too” (SI.com, 10/28). In London, Ben Saunders wrote American football fans in Britain “have got it pretty good, but is an NFL franchise really viable?” The first thing the NFL “has learnt about London is that it will draw a crowd once a year.” The Wembley atmosphere is “rather like that of a rugby league Challenge Cup final.” NFL execs next year will “find out whether Wembley will be able to pull the punters in when they have two games within a month of each other” (LONDON TIMES, 10/29). SI.com’s Peter King wrote the NFL's “test in Europe will come when multiple games are played with some mediocre teams” (SI.com, 10/26). In London, Nick Szczepanik wrote NFL execs “believe that the appetite exists” for football in the U.K. and “you get the feeling that they are probably right.” Ticket prices for yesterday’s game ranged from $80-$239. The two games next season are “expected to tell the NFL whether casual fans will attach themselves to a team that appears regularly” (INDEPENDENT, 10/29). USA TODAY’s Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz wrote placing a team outside of North America “presents entirely different logistical problems.” With the time changes and “distances involved, shipping a London-based team to the United States eight times a season for away games certainly would rattle the league's competitive balance.” It is a “tantalizing idea but one probably best kept in the pep rally forum” (USA TODAY, 10/27). TIME.com’s Glen Levy wrote while there is “no questioning the interest and knowledge shown by the British fanbase, polite applause greets completed passes rather than the raucous roars often heard across American stadia” (TIME.com, 10/29).
ONGOING EXPERIMENT: The GUARDIAN’s Sean Ingle wrote American football is “again moving the chains in Britain,” and the NFL’s plan “seems to be working.” But Rams QB Sam Bradford said of children he met near EPL club Arsenal's training ground, "It was surprising just how little they knew about our game. Some of the kids, it was the first time they'd ever seen an American football.” Kirkwood is “chilly on the prospects” for an NFL London franchise “at least in the short term.” He said, "You don't want to do things for a sake of doing things. Our fan base would probably need to triple in size for it to be sustainable” (GUARDIAN, 10/28). In Tampa, Tom Jones wrote the NFL “continues to push this London game, and I don't get it.” Jones: “First off, why not make it a big deal in this country? Make it a Friday game. Or a Saturday game. Why not make it the Monday night game? Make it special.” He continues, “If it's not a big deal here and it's not a big deal there, what's the point?” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/29). In Boston, Christopher Gasper wrote "the league’s clarion call is falling on a lot of deaf ears.” An NFL franchise in London “wouldn’t turn many heads.” The big football game everyone is talking about that was played Sunday in London was not Patriots-Rams, "but rather it was EPL matchup Chelsea-Manchester United" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/28). ESPN BOSTON’s Reiss wrote of a potential NFL London team, “I don't sense agreement from many of the fans I've spoken with here over the past few days.” The general feeling is that they “presently have allegiances to already-existing NFL teams and wouldn't switch for a newly formed or relocated NFL club” (ESPNBOSTON.com, 10/28).
The negotiations between the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament and world No. 1 Roger Federer about his expiring contract "have been discontinued," according to Daniel Germann of the NEUE ZÜRCHER ZEITUNG. Tournament Dir Roger Brennwald said that "both parties have agreed to reopen discussions after the end of the season." Federer is the "poster boy" of the tournament and the city of Basel. The fronts between Brennwald and Federer's agent Tony Godsick "are hardened." By now it is about more than simply money. However, Godsick "wants to double Federer's appearance fee from CHF 500,000 ($534,000) to more than CHF 1M ($1.1M) annually." Wounded pride and wrong sensitivity "have been added to the money issue." The relationship between the former "dream couple" has been tarnished for two years after IMG tried to buy the tournament rights from Brennwald. Despite all those issues, "it is hard to imagine that Federer would not play for a 14th consecutive year in his home tournament." Federer is Basel, and Basel is Federer (NEUE ZÜRCHER ZEITUNG, 10/29). CNN.com reported that Federer "will surrender his No. 1 ranking to Novak Djokovic" after the 17-time major winner confirmed he "is pulling out of the Paris Masters through injury." Federer endured a painful defeat to Juan Martin Del Potro at the Swiss Indoors tournament on Sunday, "a match that lasted a grueling two hours and 45 minutes" (CNN.com, 10/29).
The WTA has announced the four candidate cities that are bidding to host the WTA Championships from '14 and beyond. Based on their applicant files, the cities of Kazan, Russia; Mexico City, Mexico; Singapore; and Tianjin, China have been selected by the WTA to enter the final phase of the bidding process. The four cities were selected following an initial phase that saw 43 parties express interest in hosting the event. The winning city will be announced in the spring (WTA). ... The China Grassroots Football Expo will kick off for the first time on Thursday lasting through Sunday. The event will be held in Hangzhou, China and will "highlight the major projects and key individuals aiming to establish the sport of football for Chinese athletes, coaches, fans and enthusiasts" (WILDEASTFOOTBALL.net, 10/29).
NEWS ON THE FAIRWAY: The 2015 Solheim Cup will be held at the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Germany. It will be the first time the women's version of the Ryder Cup will be held in the country, just outside of Frankfurt (BBC.com, 10/29). ... The U.K.'s Jamega Pro Tour "will offer its top players fully paid trips to the Mena Tour" beginning next year, in what will be dubbed the "Race to the Gulf" (GULF NEWS, 10/29).