NHL, meet the world
The October 2013 travelogue will feature spots such as Winnipeg, Buffalo and Newark rather than Prague, Stockholm and Helsinki. That is because the realigned NHL will premier next season without Premiere Games in Europe, Slap Shots has been told. The future of the Premiere Games — which opened five straight NHL seasons before being wiped off the map by the lockout — will become part of the broader conversation between the league and the union regarding a comprehensive international program. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email that the league intends to have “planning discussions with the NHLPA in the near future.” Those discussions would include reviving the World Cup of Hockey as a midseason tournament to be played every four years between Olympics, thus guaranteeing a defined cycle of international best-on-best competition with which to showcase the sport. Even if there are owners who might question the sagacity of regularly shutting down the season — pardon us for guffawing — there does seem to be a consensus that moving the event from the preseason, where it was played in 2004 and 1996 following preseason Canada Cups in 1976, 1981, 1984, 1987 and 1991, represents the greatest opportunity for the NHL (and NHLPA) to profit from the event. The issue at hand is how to maximize and divide those profits through television and marketing agreements in order to turn the World Cup into a worthy endeavor beyond its aesthetic core value.
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