Most loyal, semi-loyal and even occasional readers know where I stand on the NHL heading to Europe. It's headed over there, and it's a good thing. Eventually the league will have a regular foothold over there. I think that's good for hockey, and good for the NHL. Many people disagree with me on this.
Well Gary Bettmen and co. announced that the NHL will start with 4 regular season games in Prague and Stockholm. This is a wonderful addition, and they even decided to put them in cities where the local population actually might care about hockey. They even scheduled a "Victoria cup" where the Rangers will play the winner of the Euro- Club Champion in a one game exhibition. Frankly this is wonderful news. I think this is a great way to grow the game and the NHL. The more global the NHL is the better talent will be brought in. First the NHL gets the Winter Classic right, now this.. man I'm beginning to think they are finally getting it.
Ahh but remember Bettman's still involved and he, of course, finds some way to embarrass himself and the league on something that the league should be proud of.
Yes he forgot to get the NHLPA to buy off on all these wonderful plans. Are you F$#@ing serious?
This may be the most embarrassing gaffe in the history of sports commissioners, and certainly ranks as the worst one of the last 20 years. This includes Bud Selig's All-star tie and his stars getting dragged before congress to talk about steroids. This includes David Sterns battle with the players about a dress code, or the gambling referee. While not nearly as damaging, it's certainly more embarrassing than the lockout. This completely avoidable and careless act helps solidify, in the minds of the people who already go out of their way to bash the sport, that the NHL is run by Mickey Mouse. At least all of the other above mentioned actions have some sort of defense. This is "Mission Accomplished" for hockey, and has no defense, other than complete incompetence and arrogance. Even when you're doing something good you're screwing it up.
So way to go Gary. Why not go the whole way and announce you'll play the games in Casablanca and Cairo in '09? Why not just announce that the Stanley Cup will be awarded to the team who has the last player standing in the steel cage match, LIVE on PPV, and the Hart goes to the next winner of the Royal Rumble. You're credibility is certainly heading the way of the Vince McMahon character.