Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk has said that European expansion is "...Happening, it's going to happen". He also added that he's in favor of it.
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Granted the response was overwhelming-which is exactly what I'd expect. It's not as if Sweden doesn't have a rich hockey heritage of it's own, and a chance to see NHL teams certainly would be a very popular event.
The problems, however, are numerous.
First, travel. With fuel prices almost certain to be unstable, how feasible is it to add 5 hour flights to head to Europe for regular season games? How feasible is it for teams from Europe to have to travel to North America for the bulk of their games?
It's not likely that the NHL would be able to add more than 6 teams in Europe, which means those teams would have Odysseys, not road trips. Hell the NHL has trouble enough with scheduling as it is-last year teams would go five days between games, then have the fun of playing four games in six nights.
That doesn't even bring up the time dificulties-games would be starting at noon EST. I don't know about you guys, but work gets a little pissed when I call out to watch games that are on in the afternoon.
That brings up the next issue-the talent pool. I, for one, don't think the talent pool supports 30 teams, let alone more. Part of the reason that the game got "boring" was that teams like Florida came in as expansion teams, recognized that the fastest way to be competitive was to go to the trap and mug opposing stars, and established teams like the Devils realized that if the refs weren't going to call the penalties, then you may as well obstruct and clog up the neutral zone and win.
Expanding yet again brings a possible return to the trap system being prevalent as expansion teams try to be as competitive as they can as fast as they can.
Finally, the NHL already has teams that are unstable financially. Adding more teams when you don't have a fully healthy line-up now, is idiocy run amok...which pretty much defines the Gary Bettman era of the NHL, anyhow.
The NHL needs contraction or relocation, not expansion. The league needs to have a presence in Hamilton, Quebec and Winnipeg long before it has one in Stockholm.
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