In the past, the KHL World Games took place in Vienna, Austria. This November, they are coming to Zűrich, Switzerland, where the NHL Global Series featured this year.

Slovan Bratislava earned two significant losses to CSKA Moscow and SKA St.Petersburg in Vienna where the IIHF President, Rene Fasel was in attendance as a special guest. That is not a surprise because he has been a KHL guest for every important league event. Naturally, he will be in Zűrich, Switzerland, in late November when the KHL World Games come to the country that is famous for its chocolate.

A KHL and NHL Match-Up?

The media headlines quoted Roman Rotenberg and Igor Esmatovich, announced their vision of a game between a KHL and an NHL team. They proposed that SKA and CSKA will be the KHL’s delegates to the match-up. That is not too much of a surprise. As reported, finance and scheduling are key factors hindering the idea. The KHL regular-season starts early September when the NHL training camps open. It will not be easy to find a date which would be accepted by both sides. On the other hand, the NHL is ready to travel to Europe mid-season, as shown by the NHL Global Series. At the time it is not realistic to play an intra-league game as the leagues do not want to interrupt their season. Rene Fasel revealed a plan to organise such a match-up after talks with Gary Bettman at the NHL Global Series in Helsinki, Finland.

“There is a tentative agreement to organise a game between Gagarin Cup champion & Stanley Cup champion as soon as next September. Gary welcomes such an event, but many issues must be solved.”

(René Fasel to TASS)

The NHL is reportedly requesting at least $5M for a game to be played on Russian soil. That cannot be accepted by the KHL. This leads to one very interesting question. Does the NHL demand the same sum of money from the NLA or the DEL? As we know the New Jersey Devils played against SC Bern in Switzerland, and the Edmonton Oilers played against Kölner Haie in Germany in early October.

The Meeting

Russian media reported the meeting between the IIHF President Rene Fasel, Deputy Chairman of the KHL Roman Rotenberg, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and the NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr at the NHL Global Series in Helsinki, Finland. They discussed the global development of hockey and the possibility of a game or a series of games between an NHL and a KHL team. Roman Rotenberg invited the NHL executives to the upcoming Russian Classic in St.Petersburg in December between SKA and CSKA. One week earlier, the Russian National Team will host Team Finland at the same stadium. This stadium hosted several games at the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and has a capacity of 70,000 seats for hockey.

“The NHL China Games cost $5M as far as I know,” Rene Fasel revealed. We can imagine the NHL Global Series in Europe cost a similar sum. Do the NHL pay the bill? Does the NHL demand from the host nation to compensate for any lost revenue? Why should a host nation compensate the NHL? All these questions could be asked but, at the end of the day, the games are a promotion for the NHL.

The NHL and KHL on European Soil

The NHL and KHL want to promote their leagues on European soil. They have every right to do so. European hockey executives should capitalize on the NHL & the KHL presence in their country as much as possible. There are many important topics to be discussed between European hockey executives and their partners from the KHL & the NHL. I can highlight a few.

There is in place a very unbalanced transfer agreement between various European hockey federations and the NHL. European clubs produce top talents for the NHL and are compensated poorly if they are even compensated. Gary Bettman said once again in Helsinki the NHL is not ready to participate at the Olympics. All European hockey federations should put pressure on the NHL to change their opinion. It is unacceptable if one league dictates to national hockey federations if they are allowed to call their athletes to the Olympics. Especially the athletes who were developed in Europe by European clubs. Clubs who release their top prospects to the NHL and are poorly compensated.

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The KHL and CHL on American Soil?

The KHL wants to establish itself in Europe. The Champions Hockey League wants KHL clubs to participate. There is an international schedule, which interrupts the hockey season and has a negative impact on European hockey leagues, especially on the Champions Hockey League.

Here, the big question for the NHL is: will they agree to play against KHL teams? Their position is to look down upon the rest of the world. I believe that such matches are necessary. Only though comparison, only though competition, will they be able to develop further. To a certain degree, it is the obligation of the NHL towards those countries which produce players for that league. It is necessary to continue to promote hockey.

Vyacheslav Bykov to RSport

Last but not least there is a crucial topic for hockey executives on both sides of the Atlantic. Every agreement has two sides. Both sides should receive the same benefits from any such deal. European hockey leagues should demand that the NHL promote European leagues on North American soil, in exchange for NHL promotion in Europe. Back in 2011, there was a tentative agreement between the New York Rangers and the KHL to play exhibition games in New York. The NHL demanded a hefty financial compensation from the KHL and blocked the agreement. That is not how deals work. The NHL is warmly welcomed in Europe, but the European leagues are blocked to play a game in New York? As a result of this, we still end up with pure speculation. Will we see an agreement being reached? Until then, we can only dream of what may be.

 

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Stephan Woldron/SEPA.Media /Getty Images

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I support European club hockey and I want European hockey to be as strong as possible. European hockey fans have witnessed too many attempts to launch a cross-border competition. I have been following hockey all my life and I have had the same question. Why is there not a hockey version of the UEFA Champions League? Or a European version of the NHL? 2008 was a year when a version of both, was launched. As a fan, I started to follow both leagues although it was not cool to follow the KHL at the time. Furthermore, it was a bit complicated to get the first-hand information about the KHL, the media did not cover the league as deeply as I would want. Based on my experience with the KHL & other European club hockey competitions I would like to write about the most important on and off-ice, issues of European club hockey.