Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Russians name Pavel Bure GM and dream big.

Oh, those Russians!

As if the prospect of a European NHL wasn't exciting enough for some people, now we get news that former cherry-picker/crowd-pleaser Pavel Bure was named GM of the Russian Olympic Team. Globe and Mail Story

The Russian Rocket, felled by serious knee injuries, announced his decision at a news conference in Moscow. Alexander Steblin, the head of the Russian Hockey Federation, announced that Bure would assemble the team headed to February's Turin Olympics.

"I can promise you one thing, from now on you won't see such a mess with the national team that you've seen here before," Bure told reporters.

"You won't see grouchy players here anymore. Only those who really want to play for Russia will be called into the team."

Speaking of the European NHL, Sergei Balashov of Rushockey.com has a verbose editorial on the prospects of such a league.

Fetisov and Co’s project will fix the situation and create a counterweight to the NHL that so many fans all over the World have been hoping to see in their lifetime ever since the WHA ceased to exist. What makes it even more interesting is that this time this counterweight will be established in Europe. To cap it off, Asian teams could be in the league in just a few years.

Balashov's theory is by increase the scope of the EAHL, attendance will grow in all areas and rival that of the NHL, with the benefits of increased merchandise sales and so forth.

Should the NHL be worried? After all, if the EAHL is established and it’s successful given that it has enough money to lure players from all over the world into the league, the NHL will have to try harder to keep up with the competition which will lead to financial losses not to mention the players that’ll leave or choose to not come to North America. In fact, there’s much more to it than that. The NHL has been in a deep crisis over the past few years and it had to adopt a system that was quite alike with the one that exists in the NFL, which is by far more successful. Now they have a salary cap, new rules and new regulations of the free agency market but how did they come to the point where they had to make this decision in hope for a drastic change? The teams started running out of money...
Now, here is where he is wrong. NHL owners did not start running out of money. NHL owners were never in danger of running out of money. They just wanted to stop the drastic inflation of salaries and hold the union/guild under their collective thumbs.

If there is some kind of a counterweight, the NHL will have to keep improving and making changes in time to keep up with the rivalry, also causing their adversary on the other side of the Atlantics to find out new ways to get better and keep their fans (and the players) from looking in the NHL’s direction. That’s how economy works everywhere and hockey shouldn’t be an exception.

It's agreed that the NHL would have to keep improving (at least they are trying now) if a real rival existed like the old WHA. What Balashov completely misses and ignores is that state of the economies of Europe, Asia, and North America, plus the actual fan bases. How many fans in Europe can and want to pay $50 USD for a ticket to see a hockey match? Not many, and they rely far more heavily on sponsorship and dirty/free (Those Russian oil barons) money to pay for their massive salary structures.

As Lyle Richardson once opined:
Ultimately, the notion of a European Elite League may be nothing more than wishful thinking. That being said, it is possible that the European hockey market in its present form could still pose a challenge, albeit on a lesser scale, to the NHL, in terms of competitive bids for free agents

Still, it's nice to see those crazy Russians trying. I don't wish the Russians to fail, but I'll be surprised if this new league has any more power than the current RSL.

I call mob ties.
So if the AHL was the AAA league for the NHL, and the ECHL is the AA league, where would you put a possible EAHL?

Somewhere between the two current minor leagues, or higher?
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