NHL Europe?

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am in favor of expansion into Europe in the future i.e. 20 years down the line.

Now I understand there's a lot of thought against this, but I think it's a fairly reasonable idea. I don't think it's preposterous and I'd like to think that even the most ardent of critics would acknowledge there's some merit to the idea. Well not Scott Burnside who brushes it off without even giving it any kind of proper examination:

Everything from travel to scheduling to television to ticket prices and fan bases make the idea of an NHL Europe simply impossible. So, if we accept this basic truth, the next most pertinent question is what the NHL does to continue to market itself outside North America. In short, what do they do for an encore to the British invasion?

What?!? how can you just write it off as impossible? Scheduling isn't that bad, and travel isn't any worse than when the Dodgers and Giants moved west from New York. Has Burnside ever been to a foreign city? Trust me people in Oslo and Stockholm could pay for the tickets. And these are big cities, why wouldn't they be able to support a franchise? And what the hell does he mean by "fan bases"? local fan bases? foreign ones?

If you're going to argue against it, make a reasonable argument please. Don't just say "It's impossible, and now let's move onto something else". Please Mr Burnside what else is impossible, because apparently your word is the one that binds.


  1. 1) We're not against a European face in the NHL, but even in 20 years the logistics/problems may be difficult to over come.
    2) Where is hockey big in Europe? Unfortunately NOT in the bigger countries with populations that would make it feasible: Not in France, England (the current games not withstanding), Germany, Spain, Italy.
    3) Those countries have a hockey following yes, but is it big enough to support a big time NHL franchise? No.
    4) Hockey is big in eastern Europe and Russia. Anyone think the mob would want to pay admission fees to the NHL to get a team when they are making a good number of rubles with their own self-run "Elite League"??
    5) A more potential feasible idea that may work within 20 years would be a world championship series between the European and NHL champs. Or even for the Cup itself!

  2. Well I would be against a club in Russia, mainly because I think there are too many obstacles to overcome, but I think it's feasible to have clubs over there in 20 years. 20 years is a long time and the stuff could be worked out.

    Even though they are smaller, cities like Stockholm, Helsinki, Prague and Munich are plenty big enough to play host to a franchise.

  3. 1) The BIGGEST obstacle is that Finland, Czech and Sweden ALL have their own "Elite" leagues. An 'intrusion' by the NHL wouldn't seem to be something they'd welcome.
    2) Also, how many North Americans would want to play 9 months of the year so far from home? You'd have a dichotomy of talent. The Euros staying over there and NA's staying over here. Unlike now where there is a mix on each team.
    3) Could see a top draft pick refusing to report to "Helsinki" alla Eric Lindros refusing to go to Quebec in 1991 for language reasons. Only now it would occur on both sides and MUCH more frequently

  4. I think there would be some players who refuse to report, but really I don't see it as a big issue. I also think some would relish the chance to play overseas, if Someone gave me a job making $M in Europe right after school, i would have signed up in a heartbeat, so there's that aspect too.

    While douchebags like Pronger, Yashin and Lindross might refuse to report I think it would be the exception, not the rule.