Alexander Semin has struggled with the English language while Alex Ovechkin picked it up quite quickly. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Interesting news tidbit from the LPGA, which announced this week it will require its players to have at least a cursory grasp of the English language by 2009 if they wish to play for that organization.
I wouldn’t demand a similar regulation be imposed on NHLers that forces them to change. But it would behoove the league and NHLPA to stress to its European players the importance of getting a firm handle on the primary language in which the game’s business is conducted.
Indeed, if the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Semin and other rising European stars became more fluent in English, there’s little doubt their on-ice talents would garner more mainstream attention than they do at present.
Everyone in the NHL is well aware the league is above all else a business. And if a significant part of your business conductors are trapped inside a language foreign to most of your customers, well, there’s more than a little that is bound to get lost in translation.
• Just what the hockey world was waiting for: another Mats Sundin story.
At this stage, I think the creation of the Geneva Convention garnered less attention than Sundin has received this summer. Sure, the man deserves the right to take as much time as he wants when deciding whether to play again, but there’s an unintended consequence of his dithering that could burden him in a big way if he doesn’t retire – namely, the near-mythic status his services seem to gain with every passing off-season day.
Should Sundin wind up playing, the expectations placed on him could be equal to or greater than any pressure he’s felt in Toronto. He’s only got himself and his agonizing decision process to fault for that.