Wednesday, October 01, 2008

From Montreal to Minsk?

Apparently the NHL and NHLPA like what they're seeing with these little European excursions.

According to an article that passed under the radar a few days ago on ESPN, there are talks about sending as many as 8 NHL teams over to European cities next fall. With the continued possibility of regular season starts in the Eastern hemisphere:
"The number of teams taking part in what is now a two-year tradition of starting the regular season in Europe will grow next fall to six teams presumably in three cities and maybe as many as eight teams, Kelly said before the Tampa Bay Lightning faced off against Berlin in an exhibition game Sunday."

Of interest for the Canadiens is a possible game in Moscow or even Minsk. As the only NHL team with bona fide Belarussian stars, the Habs would be a natural choice for that match-up.

To the doubters

The responses will come that this kind of exhibition is not valuable and could hurt the team's chances. You know my opinion on the whole European start debate from my Victoria Cup article.

Please don't try to suggest that this kind of thing would be unprecedented for the NHL or for the Canadiens.

The Canadiens began their 1990-91 campaign in Russia, playing 4 games against SKA Leningrad, Dynamo Riga, Dynamo Minsk and CSKA (the Canadiens of the Russian league). And, in between 1975 and 1991, there were 108 games between NHL and Soviet clubs, with Montreal playing in a fair share of those (11 in all).

As far as training camp 1990 goes, their game against CSKA was the most memorable, of course. Mainly for the brawl. But also considering some scouting reports probably came out of that one: Kovalenko, Malakhov and Petrov were all associated with CSKA back then. By that point, the Habs and Red Army had a nice little rivalry going over the years: 1-1-1. That game, won by CSKA means we are behind in the series...

Anyway, we might as well hit Moscow and Minsk. As the Stanley Cup Champions we'll be over there anyway trying to become the second recipients of the Victoria Cup, right??

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