Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Newsflash: A North American Pundit Notices Other Leagues

You all know what I think about the KHL – it is for real. I have written about it more than once, most recently in July after the landmark Jagr (not Radulov) signing.

Someone from the Hockey News has finally acknowledged the issue of a rival league. Beginning in an almost self-effacing way, Ken Campbell admits that he (and THN) had been a bit naive recently. Oh, but not too wrong.

Anyway, the article is worth a read, if only for the interesting Semin case and Radulov parallel.

It's nice to see someone else giving this important issue for the NHL the light of day. To say that THN considers european leagues a legitimate threat would be overstatement, as you can see with comments like this one:

The Canadian Hockey League owners make a ton of money on the backs of teenagers who make less per hour than the kid who flips burgers at McDonald’s, but they have found a way to live with the NHL raiding its ranks. Not so with Europe, a body the NHL is quickly finding more like dealing with seven individual federations than one.

I'll say it again. Jagr was no joke. Russian teams are not a joke.

Imagine if Sweden also opened up a competitor league with room for millionaires, then the impact on NHL talent would be felt again. Finland, also. These countries are not the CHL, which is entirely limited to junior and mostly in smaller markets. These leagues are major sporting institutions in the countries they play in, and they are based in some of the metropolises of Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Russia.

Unless the NHL gets off its high horse and gets some sort of agreement, the transfer madness can only hurt one league – and that's the one monopolising most of the hockey talent at the moment. The depth of the league will be challenged, as will the size of it.

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