Team Russia celebrates after winning the 2008 World Championship. (DAVID BOILY/AFP/Getty Images)
Maybe it’s a reflection of my age, or the age of man, or a combination of the two, but my attention span has dwindled to the size of…hey, did you check out that cute baby video on YouTube yet? I’ll kick her ass, LOL…
Where were we?
Right. I have increasingly less time for matters of complexity and entanglements. Which brings me to international hockey. Holy morass! (Hehe, I slipped in ass again.)
In two years, we’ll have the Vancouver Olympics, potentially the last Games in which NHLers will participate after a 12-year run. Every three, four, five, six, seven or 11 years we have the World Cup of Hockey or the Canada Cup or whatever they’re calling it these days – if it even still exists.
To start this season, the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning (Prague); and Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators (Stockholm) will open their seasons in Europe, following last year’s “toe-dipping” by Anaheim and Los Angeles in English waters.
That came 10 years after the Ducks and Canucks opened their regular campaigns in Japan with the “Game One” series.
Now, there’s something called the Victoria Cup (an NHL team vs. Euro league champs), the rekindling of a champions league and the annual World Championship. For good measure, let’s throw in a Spengler Cup.
I realize the burgeoning Kontinental Hockey League isn’t an international event, but the thought of it and all the legal machinations that have gone on this summer still hurts my brain.
And now NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly has told The Hockey News, in an interview with Adam Proteau for an upcoming edition of the magazine, he fully supports exploration of NHL expansion into Europe.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the fact hockey is played and embraced in numerous parts of the world. It’s the lack of a unified vision for the global game, one that promotes a regular, sustained and easy-to-follow timetable and schedule, that alienates me at times.
If I were king of the hockey world, I’d steal soccer’s model and put all my pucks in one net: A world tournament every four years that would kick, ahem, ass. It’d be the be-all, end-all and the place to focus our attention.
Turn the Olympics into a World Junior affair or under-22 event; scrap the annual world championship – maybe turn that into a Euro championship every four years. Keep the champions league if necessary, but make every other tournament secondary. And forget NHL expansion into Europe; that feels like a huge complication waiting to happen. Give us four years of build-up and intrigue for a truly special world event and include more than eight nations.
Have playdowns and qualifiers during the in-between years. Establish “friendlies.” But most of all, make it easy to follow for those of us whose minds tend to…oh, yeah, you gotta see “evil eye” baby…
Jason Kay is the editor in chief of The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend.
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