One of the ideas tabled during the hot stove discussions yesterday was during an address of the state of the game of hockey globally. An interesting concept that was tabled (which I think is more and more brilliant the longer I think about it) was tabled by Bob McCown and it was the suggestion of an international hockey tournament similar to the UEFA Champions League in European football. It’s the concept of pitting the best teams from hockey leagues around the world in an international tournament with the victor laying claim to one of the more prestigious titles in hockey. The concept is something that would be hugely beneficial for the sport of hockey for a number of reasons, many of which are stepping stones in the solutions to the issues raised at the summit.
The introduction of a tournament that saw the best of the leagues in the NHL, and European hockey federations across the country would be a huge step for the game as far smoothing the relationship between the North American and International games. The NHL has often tried to sell the game internationally but in countries like Germany where European football is the dominant sport, hockey doesn’t necessary garner the same household attention. However if you had an international tournament with teams more local to the fans in the area and region you foster a greater interest and benefit the game as a whole. It’s a win-win situation as it raises European interest in the NHL teams that would participate and would certainly draw new fans to the sport which serves to help the sport grow outside of NA which is so important.
The relationship between the NHL and the IIHF has been one with certain frictions because of certain opinions on the value of tournaments like the World Championships. The NHL isn’t keen on it’s players participation in these tournaments however if you were to include the NHL and it’s teams (owners) in a greater capacity (more than just taking players for national teams) it’s likely that things could be smoothed out between the international governing body of hockey and the NHL while helping to grow the game. With the future of tournaments like the World Championships unsure, perhaps a replacement idea like this would thrive and benefit all parties concerned.
I’m a huge fan of the international game and just thinking about such a tournament excites me. Having a tournament that featured the two best teams in the NHL, SEL, KHL to name a few of the leagues that would participate, would be hockey and national pride at their best outside of the Olympics. It’s an interesting concept and certainly one that has a huge potential to foster grass roots growth. From the business aspect of the game there is potential for a hugely successful event. It’s food for thought, it’s a neat concept, and I for one would love to see this idea develop into something one day.