By Sean Gallagher
While we didn't see Gary Bettman in the commercial, he belongs there. The
midget commissioner revealed today via his right-hand man Bill Daly that they expect to expand the NHL to Europe within 10 years. Well, that fits right in with similar decisions such as taking off a season to keep down player salaries for a year, scrapping perfectly good uniforms for jerseys that channel sweat straight into a player's gloves and giving franchises to teams in Phoenix, Columbus and Nashville.
Now, we're sure that the NHL and all of the highly-paid geniuses that work here would have thought this through already, but we have a couple bullet points for their consideration:
1. The travel schedules of Western Conference teams are brutal already. How do you think a sweet trans-Atlantic trip is going to affect the quality of play of the teams?
2. Sure the Brits packed into the O2 Arena to watch an early-season Kings/Ducks game to open the 2007-08 season, but how quickly do you think that the novelty of ice hockey is going to wear off once the English Premier League season kicks in at virtually the same time?
3. Expansion? Really? Look we get the fact that it's a little embarassing that over 50% of all teams qualify for the postseason, byt if the league really, really has to add more teams (even after the inevitable move of Nashville and the likely future moves of Florida and Phoenix), shouldn't the focus be on traditional hockey markets like, oh, we don't know, Canada? Carolina GM Jim Rutherford said as much, noting that the league should get back "into Winnipeg and put another team in Ontario before we expand to Europe."
We're sure there's plenty of room to debate on this, but again the practicality of the plan seems to be a major stumbling block. In the end we have to ask, Shouldn't the NHL just get a hockey man to run this league, rather than a business man?