NHL Rival League?
The Puck Stops Here has written numerous articles about how many Russians are returning to Russia to play hockey partly because of the lack of a transfer agreement with Russia, CBA related issues and because the Russian league can offer many of them equal or greater salaries. In a recent article about a Canadian leaving to play for Russia I wrote a comment about the impact of all these players returning to Russia might have on the Russian league. I wondered if with all these players returning to Russia if the Russian league is seeing growth in the fan base as well as revenue. I also wondered if any such success may enourage them to expand beyond the Russian borders and create a European Super League. This seems even more possible when you consider that the other European countries recently voted to end the current IIHF transfer agreement with the NHL and renegotiate a better one.
Well just four days after I wondered if a European super league may get started TSN and the Toronto Star are reporting that a Russian Tycoon has hired former NHLPA executive Bob Goodenow to help create a new professional European hockey league which could start as soon as September 2008. This is bad news for Bettman and the NHL as we have heard whispers that a European division of the NHL was a goal of theirs. If this league takes off and a significant number of European players return to Europe or remain in Europe what impact will that have on the quality of the on ice product in which many people already feel is sub-par because of diluted level of talent. Mass mediocrity and a general lack of high quality teams rules the roost in the NHL today if even 20% of europeans leave the NHL it could be disaster for the on ice product. If you thought scoring was low in the NHL now, imagine what it will be with 20% fewer skilled Europeans.
James Mirtle has a related story on the reduction of Europeans in the NHL.