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Bringing Hexy Back • 42 Years Old • Male
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.

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.
Filed Under:   European   Expansion   Contraction   Bettman   Sweden  
October 6, 2008 9:40 AM ET | Delete
Agreed. Hell, I'd even add Portland, Seattle, and Houston to the list that would come long before Europe.
October 6, 2008 9:47 AM ET | Delete
Yeah the Euro expansion idea is absolutely ludicrous.God how I hate Jacques Lemaire.
October 6, 2008 10:09 AM ET | Delete
"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." there are many cities within north america that one should consider, before packing bags and starting to expand to europe. Great Blog JS
October 6, 2008 10:25 AM ET | Delete
Definitely. Expansion has diluted talent. Lets fix the CURRENT league in N.A. before we get ahead of ourselves.
October 6, 2008 11:05 AM ET | Delete
Only one problem here, while Bettman and his cronies claim to be listening to the fans, in reality they rarely do. When someone dangles 1/4 billion dollar expansion fees before for their eyes, for some reason the health of the game takes a back seat. If they go to Europe, I'll be content watching some good major junior hockey, because the talent will be exactly the same.
October 6, 2008 11:42 AM ET | Delete
How exactly does Melnyk saying something make Bettman an idiot?
October 6, 2008 1:13 PM ET | Delete
It's interesting that you chose to call out Bettman for this, yet you excluded the part of the article that clearly stated that he was taken aback by the Sens owner's comments, and that he also stated that they aren't even thinking about that right now. I know that bashing Bettman is the 'cool' thing to do, but you could at least write an honest blog.
October 6, 2008 3:39 PM ET | Delete
My solution....Contract not 2 teams, not 4 teams, 10 teams. Anahiem, Atlanta, Carolina, Columbus, Florida, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Phoenix and Tampa. The league would then look like this, WEST- Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minnesota, San Jose, St. Louis
October 6, 2008 3:39 PM ET | Delete
Predaceous:"I know that bashing Bettman is the 'cool' thing to do"It's not the cool thing to do, it's the obvious thing to do. This man is single handedley ruining this game, if he hasn't already. Melnyk didn't come up with this all on his own. Taken aback by his comments? More like pissed off he spilled the beans. Maybe they're not thinking about it now, next year or two, but you an bet your "treat Bettman nice" button that it's been discussed and some sort of plan or trial is planned in the not so distant future. Send the IDIOT Bettman back to basketball and get a true Hockey guy in there. While their at it, maybe they should talk to NASCAR about marketing and TV 'cause whatever the NHL is doing, it isn't working. GREAT BLOG JS!
October 6, 2008 3:42 PM ET | Delete
October 6, 2008 4:26 PM ET | Delete
The reason that European expansion is being discussed in the first place is because Bettman has repeatedly mentioned it as a possibility. Bettman's incompetence has led the NHL to a state where it's a joke-there's teams that have played 2 regular season games before others have finished their pre-season. Yes, Bettman did distance himself from the comments of Melnyk, but his hands are not clean in this at all.
October 6, 2008 4:48 PM ET | Delete
How about NHL Europe? They would play only in Europe and the winner plays the NHL America for the Stanley cup. LOL I am only kidding. We need to fix the NHL and quick. The Russians are not going to sit back and let their league die, they will pump all the money needed to make sure it survives and Bettman among others will watch as the NHL becomes more and more watered down. I agree on contraction or relocation being the thing needed most. There are just some markets that will never support hockey the way that is needed. Will they ever understand what is needed to return the NHL to it's former glory? In my eyes, the answer is no.
October 6, 2008 9:31 PM ET | Delete
Major League Baseball had regular season games in Japan this year before other teams finished the regular season and it wasn't the first time they've done it. The idea of European expansion is neither original or Bettman's idea.
October 7, 2008 12:09 AM ET | Delete
I also disagree with MLB for opening their season in another country. Bettman is not the creator of the idea of European expansion, however, he's been a proponent of it for quite awhile. The reasons listed against expansion-the watered down talent pool, the financial instabilities of several franchises, poor decisions in past expansion platforms all fall on Mr Bettman.
October 7, 2008 6:55 AM ET | Delete
I actually don't think European expansion is a bad idea in whole, but in the end, if this does come to some sort of fruition, all success will boil down to how it is implemented and established. First and foremost, there is absolutely no chance of a traditional expansion to Europe; it is simply entirely unfeasible to have a normal NHL team anywhere in Europe. The logistics are a joke, the expenses would be astronomic, and scheduling would only alternate between being completely unfair and a mill-stone around everyone's neck.Either the European team would spend months on the road touring North America, or north American teams would be forced to entirely build their schedule with large blocks of home games interrupted by fortnight stretches away for tours in Europe. That said, it might work if the NHL established an "NHL Europa" or "NHL EU" division that would be comprised of 8 or 10 teams (perhaps well known clubs like Modo, Ak Bars, Dynamo Moskova, etc. could be brought into the NHL fold) that primarily play one another, but also play in the NHL (both at home and away) in a special mid-season stretch that is somewhat similar to inter-league play in baseball. All of this would need serious thought because there are some pretty serious inequalities in my above plan, (which I admit is just something I thought of on the fly) but I still think it has its merits.
October 7, 2008 10:40 AM ET | Delete
Maybe we should contract the Flyers as well there fillyphlyer since you seem to throw out everyteam expect yours.
October 7, 2008 11:34 AM ET | Delete
amen to that flyboy... melnik just has the balls to say what they are planning.. of course he wants expansion, with diluted teams the sens could actually win.. hehe, now with that shot out of the way heres another issue, not only talent geting spread to thin but what about refs? we all see how horrible the european refs can be when called on to police nhl talent. the NHL refs are bad enough without bringing in more inexperienced versions of the crap we already have.. and what the heck would they do about the travel? obviously swedish teams wouldnt be going on north american road trips during the season for months on end.. there would have to be enough teams brought in over there to sustain at LEAST a conference of their own. If its going to happen perhaps the smartest thing would be to convert the swedish elite league and the likes into NHL conferences. They play to their own champion and then there is a memorial cup type championship between nhl north america and the european invasion clubs. Personally i think it would take away from the heritage of the game but then again arent we talking about a Bettman idea here? what else would he do other then ruin the game.. 2 lockouts, lost canadian franchises, idiotic expansion to places such as Nashville that are more familiar with little green martians then they are with ice let alone a sport played on it... the Bettman era continues....
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