Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Rival Hockey League?

Be still my beating heart.

Russian tycoon eyes league to rival NHL

Another professional hockey league could be on the horizon.

And it could be a league that would give the world's top hockey players an alternative to the National Hockey League.

A media report on Saturday said that Russian energy tycoon Alex Medvedev is planning to develop a rival league based in Europe.

The Toronto Star indicates Medvedev has hired former NHL Players Association director Bob Goodenow and Stanley Cup winner Igor Larionov to work towards developing the league.

The story also suggests the operators would like to have the new league up and running by fall of 2008. As well, according to the report, Medvedev has already contacted prospective broadcasters and sponsors.

The start-up of a new league would not be surprising, considering the continued exodus of Europe's best hockey players to the North America and the NHL.

Friction between Russia's ice hockey federation and the NHL has been growing.
I'm skeptical, but hey, stranger things have happened. If (big IF)a European league does manage to get off the ground it could create profound changes in how hockey is played, marketed and viewed globally. We're looking at changes possibly much more profound than those of the last great NHL rival league insurrection...

I wish this rival league, actually, I wish any rival league all the best in their efforts to challenge the NHL. The competition, I think, would do the sport tremendous good.


asdfuhzknůl said...

"the operators would like to have the new league up and running by fall of 2008"

Well, that´s not quite realistic I think.

The Russian Super League is already a considerably force on the market, and who knows, maybe within some years the russians might be able to lure some high end talent out of the NHL.

I don´t see a european NHL on the way. Which teams should participate? How many teams? Where should they play? There are only a few teams in Europe with large arenas. (Cologne Sharks, Jokerit Helsinki, Slavia Prague...)

Would those teams drop out of their national championship to play in a rival hockey league? NO WAY.

Maybe a format like the UEFA uses for the soccer Champions League could be realistic, in which teams participate in addition to their domestic league. (k.o. or play-off modus)

Photomas said...

Great points vakfan. Short term I too would be very surprised if anything got off the ground. However, I believe there's just too much world class hockey being played in Europe not to have a world class professional league develope there. A league, because of the talent pool available, could grow I think relatively quickly to be on par with the NHL. I believe it's going to happen eventually. When's the question.