NHLers like Evgeni Malkin have raised the KHL's profile, but don't count on a major continental expansion yet. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Hey there. Me again. Answering your questions (NHL lockout-related or otherwise) each and every Friday here at THN.com. Ever get the sense that, despite the fact you might not see your submitted question in the online mailbag, I’ve still answered it somewhere else? You might be right – but you’ll have to listen to THN Radio and subscribe to our magazine to find out. As always, thanks for your time and your typing.
Adam, instead of the NHL expanding to Europe, is there a possibility that the KHL could develop into a powerful league that could branch out over the Eastern Hemisphere? This way, Europe gets the top-tier hockey it's craving and expansion rumors will stop. What do you think?
Nicholas Duplessis, White River, Ont.
Yours is an intriguing proposition, but one that has some nearly insurmountable obstacles in its way. For starters, the KHL is still in its relative infancy as a league and a brand. It’s tough to imagine it can go into any Eastern European country, set up shop and expect fans to support the product.
There’s also the matter of the existing pro leagues in those European nations. Do you imagine they’ll be especially receptive toward a business competitor? To say I don’t is to understate it.
But equally important is the allure of the NHL, whenever that league returns to action. As soon as it does, the best players inevitably will be drawn to it, if not for financial reasons, then for competitive ones.
See what I’m getting at? There are just too many forces at work that would snuff out the flames of European KHL expansion before they had more than a handful of flickers.
Hi Adam! Just have to say this is one of my favorite columns I get to read on THN mobile app. As for my question, I was wondering if teams/franchises that relocate would still be able to wear the old jerseys come game time? Example, could the Avs wear the Nordiques jersey, or Coyotes wear the old Jets jersey, etc.? Looking forward to your response! Cody O.
Cody Osborne, Swift Current, Sask.
First off, thanks for the kind words. No, I don’t think you’ll ever see a relocated team wearing its old uniform in its new city. For starters, moved teams are looking to establish a new identity for themselves – or in the case of the Winnipeg Jets version 2.0, they’ll embrace a familiar one – and to dredge up the immediate and, more than likely, unpleasant recent history of the franchise isn’t something that will fly.
Now, somewhere down the line – in a charity alumni game, for instance – you might see the team pay some respect to its history by allowing those jerseys to be worn by a group of players who had a close connection to it. But 99.9 percent of the time, franchises are in the business of appealing to the best moments in their history. And usually, those moments do not involve relocation.
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Adam, when and if the NHL operates this year, how do you rate the incoming Rookie of the Year prospects?
Les Wagner, Syosset, N.Y.
I don't have many different names to give you than the guys you've likely heard mentioned already – Justin Schultz, Mark Scheifele, Mikael Granlund, Nail Yakupov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Chris Kreider – but I also know there are almost always some surprises who will play their way into contention. I mean, was anybody talking about Matt Read and/or Adam Henrique as Calder frontrunners at this time last season? Nobody I know of did. That's the beauty of actual play – all the best guesses and expectations fall by the wayside, and the proof of who excels is presented.
Hi Adam, what do you think are the chances that the NHL might someday consider adopting a schedule similar to that of Major League Baseball? I've heard rumors of this and think it would be a worthwhile discussion for the NHL to have. Take the 82-game schedule and pare it down to blocks of games against common opponents.
So for instance, my Red Wings might play three games in 3-4 nights all against the Blackhawks in Chicago, then do it again in Detroit later in the season. Teams would take off three to four nights between sets for rest and travel. This would minimize travel expenses because it would mean fewer trips, and might increase rivalries due to playing the same teams several nights in a row. Thanks!
Andrew Serratelli, Mason, Mich.
There is some merit to your argument from a financial perspective, so I’d have to imagine on that basis alone it would appeal to many NHL team owners. However, there are practical reasons it wouldn’t fly.
The first and biggest reason is the use of NHL arenas as multi-purpose buildings that host concerts and other sports, often in the same competitive season. For instance, in Toronto, you’ve got an NHL and NBA team in the same location, so you’d need some incredibly intricate cross-sport scheduling to accommodate everybody. You might even need other leagues to adopt that same scheduling philosophy to make it work.
As we know, other leagues aren’t in the habit of caring much about competitors, so I can’t see that happening. And to some degree, don’t you want to spread out your heated rivalries across the season? If I’m a Sharks fan and only play the Kings two weeks early in the season and then not again the rest of the year, I’m feeling kind of cheated.
Not sure where you’re hearing these rumors, but nobody in the NHL is taking them seriously. There is too much of the business that would have to be deconstructed and reconstructed at great cost to turn them into reality.