Monday, October 6, 2008

European Expansion?

- With all the recent discussions about possible European expansion, especially Ottawa owner Melnyk yesterday saying it was "definitely going to happen", and the NHL again starting its season on the other side of the pond, we figured we go back to what we wrote last year about this issue. We believe our ideas/opinions written then are still valid now, so we will re-write that post in its entirety. -

  • Monday, October 8, 2007

    European Expansion?

    1) With the completed opening of the NHL season in London recently, we at FAUXRUMORS decided we'd look into the possibility of European expansion and its feasibility. Our friend at Jibblescibbits recently did their own story on this matter. ttp://
    2) He believes it IS a possibility, albeit a distant one. We set forth in response to that post a series of reasons which we believe would most likely preclude a possible European expansion:

  • The time differential. Getting folks to tune into NHL games is difficult enough down in the states now. Imagine if a good % of games started at 1-2 or 3:00 a.m. EST? Even worse for the folks out west.

  • Differences in currency. It was a nightmare (until recently) to have 2 currencies dominate the league. Imagine if they throw the Euro, and other European currencies into the mix?

  • The "Big countries" over the pond in Western Europe(England, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany) are not known as hockey hot beds. Certainly hockey is huge in Sweden, Czech and Slovak republics, Russia, and to a lesser extent Switzerland. Is that where the NHL wants to expand?

  • Those aforementioned countries all have well established "Elite leagues". Would/could they find a series of folks willing to shell out big expansion fees in these smaller countries?

  • How many North Americans would want to play 9 months of the year so far from home if they could stay closer at the same salary? 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 As a result the potential exists that one could see a top draft pick(s) refusing to report to a European city 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. Most Europeans speak English and its taught in almost all schools. The same is NOT true over here. How many North American hockey players speak Swedish, Russian, etc?

  • The travel for teams here going to Europe and vise versa would be horrendous. Teams in the 2 western time zones would have it even worse than the East. Its hard enough leveling the playing field in 3-4 time zones. Adding 6-7 more would be a nightmare!

3) No, we simply can not see a legitimate scenario where a series of European NHL teams could be established. Way too many hurdles. Perhaps in the VERY distant future when:

  • the Earth has ONE currency.

  • the transport of folks to and from can be accomplished in minutes not hours,

  • Then idea may have some potential. Until then, the best possible scenario that could have a legitimate shot at working would be to have a European champion play the NHL champion for the Stanley Cup. Even that would face tremendous challenges from North American hockey traditionalists, but would have the potential to really open up the NHL into European consciousness


Frank said...

I'm not a big fan of European expansion (outside of maybe a world 'club' championship), but you are confused about the time difference. Eve. games in Europe will be afternoon games in NA. For a game to start 3AM here it would have to be a morning game in Europe. Now, night games in NA would be 2-3AM games over there.

You could have two divisions, with a final and maybe each team making one trip across the pond, but that would require 10-16 teams.


1) Frank: Thanks for the correction, however the time differential(up to 9 hours) is STILL very significant if the NHL wants to garner a TV audience.
2) That particular issue is admittedly more of an issue when a North American based team plays over there, and vise versa.

Jibblescribbits said...

I think the biggest problems to overcome would be labor laws, as they are completely different in Europe than they are here. Unions tend to have a lot more power over there in the EU.

I just don't see travel as a problem. It's really not as bad as everyone thinks, IMO


1) Great thought there Jibble. We're sure there are even more stumbling blocks that we all have overlooked. Bottom line, it aint happening for at least another generation at the earliest!

Jibblescribbits said...

I still think it'll happen within 20 years... because i think some of the problems (Euro, and especially travel) are overstated.

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