There is no way around the fact that the N.H.L's popularity in Europe has grown significantly over the last couple of season. Although mainly due to extensive N.H.L marketing and contracts with the North American Sports Network to broadcast more games then, ever the truth is that hockey on t.v is completely different than in real time. The excitment, the speed have never been able to translate as well to the television screen as they do live.
So the N.H.L had moved to open up the regular season in London's o2 arena and the move played major dividends as both games were a massive success in London. Or were they? Upon further inspection as wonderful as London was the majority of the fan base who attended these two games between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angele's Kings were tourist of hockey mad countries like Sweden, Slovakia, Czech Republic and even Finland. Excited to see the worlds best compete close to home. So the N.H.L has expanded to reach these Markets right at home with Several teams playing exhibitions and starting the season in Germany, Slovakia, Czech republic, Sweden and Finland.
While recently the New Continental Hockey league has been marketed as competition to the N.H.L. Based in Russian and growing its talent pool rapidly the C.H.L (k.H.L) may be quick to cease on logistics and popularity into expanding it grip on the game. The seemingly endless wallets of Russian oil tycoons (Or mobsters) has its targets on both Russia and Europe's premier players and even the possibility of luring some North American talent as well. As tension in the political world begin to build between the east and west The Future of the two leagues maybe be the battle ground of central Europe.
It must be more than a few exhibitions, once a year for the N.H.L to keep the hearts and dreams of the young stars, the next generation interested in coming overseas. It will take A European Conference with the chance to Compete for the Stanley cup to take the N.H.L to the next level both financial and globally. If Gary Bettman does not see the growing threat or fails to acknowledge the serious threat that lies in Russia, the N.H.L could have more serious problems then Nascar and the N.B.A. They could end up losing what makes the game so great, the title of the Greatest Hockey league in the world.