January 26, 2007

Champions League on ice?: Well, it may not be quite as illustrious as the futbol version, but International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) president Rene Fasel proposes a club championship game between the Stanley Cup winner and the European Champions Cup winner. Should the game get played, I'm guessing that the trustees will deny any challenge for the Cup. [via MrFrisby in the spofi campfire]

posted by goddam to hockey at 09:18 PM - 18 comments

I love the idea! That way we Americans can be proud of the Canadians that play on our teams as they win ;)

posted by cptdon at 09:58 PM on January 26, 2007

I think this is a fantastic idea. On the other hand there is room for controversy. If they pull this off it would be a game of olympic proportions in my mind. Imagine being the best hockey team in the world. One problem I see is if you have, say, a Swedish player on your team and we play Sweden, where is that players loyalty going to lay?

posted by Psycho at 09:02 AM on January 27, 2007

True. Every NHL team has Europeans on it. It wouldn't be unlikely for that "who do I play for" situation to come about. Then, if the NHL team loses a guy, it's not the same team that won the cup.

posted by carolinared at 09:57 AM on January 27, 2007

One problem I see is if you have, say, a Swedish player on your team and we play Sweden, where is that players loyalty going to lay? Eh, that problem never rises in the soccer Champion's League. Your loyalty goes to the team that pays your wages. Besides, they'd be playing clubs, not nations. I think a similar thing could happen between the NBA and the Euroleague. Basketball is growing more and more popular in Europe, and is now getting regular TV time. There's definitely a market waiting to be tapped, and some kind of trans-Atlantic basketball competition could get quite big.

posted by afx237vi at 11:11 AM on January 27, 2007

I don't think that a players' loyalty would be torn between his NHL team and a European team.

I think that it would benifit the NHL and the EU teams, bringing international exposure to both sides. I just wonder what kind of trophy they would have for this. Would it be bigger and badder than Lord Stanley? Maybe not, but if this thing takes off (I really do see Bettman screwing this up somehow) the trophy would probably gain in stature as the years go by.

posted by wingnut4life at 11:32 AM on January 27, 2007

It won't really be like a Champions League for hockey because all of the best teams are in the NHL. Same situation with basketball. It sounds more like the World Series champs vs. the Japan Series champs, series that happend back in the 70's and 80's. It wasn't taken very seriously in the USA.

posted by Steve-o at 12:52 PM on January 27, 2007

Most European club teams play a 50- 60 game schedule. I don't know what their playoff system would be (easier or harder than the Stanley Cup playoffs) but it would seem the Euros would have a great advantage playing 20 to 30 games less.

posted by GOD at 12:58 PM on January 27, 2007

There are North Americans who play on the European elite league teams too. Playing for your club team against your home country is not a problem in soccer. I don't see why it couldn't work in hockey. The elite leagues in Europe (especially Russia, Sweden & Finland) are good enough to make this kind of a thing far from a slam-dunk for the NHL clubs, and hockey is a much more internationalized sport than baseball, at least in the eyes of North Americans. I think it would be received quite well. If the unions clear this idea (a big if), I could see it being a fairly big deal on both sides of the ocean.

posted by chicobangs at 02:38 PM on January 27, 2007

Do the European leagues play on the larger ice surface? Wouldn't that be an advantage for them? Not that it matters to me, I still think this would be a great contest. It definitely would bring more exposure to the NHL. The best part is it would be actual teams and not just a collection of players like the olympics were.

posted by MrFrisby at 06:36 PM on January 27, 2007

You are right, Fris. The international rinks are larger than NHL rinks. The exposure would be helpful for both sides of the ocean, I think. The international players would get their skills seen by many more NHL scouts, and us hockey fans would be able to check out the international flavor. I would really like to see the international players a lot more than once every four years or so.

posted by wingnut4life at 06:54 PM on January 27, 2007

I remember years ago when the Red Army team toured in North America and defeated several NHL teams quite handily. If the Stanley Cup Champs played the best Euro team a lot of fans could be in for a big shock. They're pretty damn good over there.

posted by sickleguy at 10:32 AM on January 28, 2007

It's a great idea. And I bet some of those Euro league teams - especially a couple of the elite Swedish and Russian pro-clubs would give an NHL team a better challenge than some of you are suggesting. It's not like there aren't players over there that are there only because they can't make it in the NHL. On the contrary - the good ones are there by choice and because they make more money. It sounds more like the World Series champs vs. the Japan Series champs, series that happend back in the 70's and 80's. It wasn't taken very seriously in the USA. Who gives a shit?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:37 AM on January 28, 2007

I would enjoy it. Thanks for the post goddam and skater (oops Mr. Frisby).

posted by skydivemom at 01:25 PM on January 28, 2007

I'm going to play the part of the Arrogant North American here and state that in a 7-game series, the best team in the NHL will beat the best team in Europe over 90% of the time. The only factors that would work against the NHL team would be: - fatigue (I believe that the NHL season and playoffs are MUCH longer than the European leagues) - travel (if the games are played outside of North America, that's travel beyond the norm for these players) - compensation (you'd have to provide financial reward for the players to play beyond their contractual obligations (which are only pre-season, regular season, all-star and playoffs), and it would have to be worth it I'd love to see it happen, but I don't think the Stanley Cup should be the prize. That is won by the NHL champion, period. Put up a true "Champions Cup" for the winner. I'm not sure how you'd find an optimal starting time that would benefit both North American and European fans.

posted by grum@work at 04:45 PM on January 28, 2007

While the Stanley Cup is currently the championship trophy of the NHL, it did used to be traded between leagues and even further back between amateaur hockey teams. So despite the fact no team outside the NHL since the 1924-25 Victoria Cougars has held the cup, it would be well within the spirit of the cup to be awarded to a team outside of the NHL in a challenge game. I'd applaud the move.

posted by apoch at 06:02 PM on January 28, 2007

I think you guys would be surprised at how good some of the European teams are. Ak-Bars Kazan and Moscow Dynamo from the Russian Elite league could beat many NHL teams on any given day, and Jokerit in Finland and MODO in Sweden are perennially great teams as well. A lot of very skilled hockey players stay in their home country because they can get paid almost as much at home as they can in the NHL, with the added benefit of not having to learn a new language. The Russian Elite League, although it is rumored to be fantastically corrupt, pays salaries nearly comparable to NHL cash.

posted by Samsonov14 at 08:55 PM on January 28, 2007

This would rock. But I bet that after an 82-game season and long, long, long playoff season, the NHLPA isn't going to want to play anymore...especially since this game would have to be in June or whatever. And yeah, this calls for a new trophy. The Stanley Cup is the NHL's trophy now, like it or not. Its availability to other leagues is really just a technicality.

posted by fabulon7 at 09:05 AM on January 29, 2007

And yeah, this calls for a new trophy. The Stanley Cup is the NHL's trophy now, like it or not. Agreed. This sounds more like FIFA's World Club Cup Championship than Champions League or Stanley Cup.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:36 AM on January 30, 2007

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