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NHL launching soccer-style Champions Cup?


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In addition to outdoor games and excessive celebrations, the National Hockey League is reportedly preparing to borrow something else from the world’s most popular sport.

By 2016, the NHL will hold a Champions Cup featuring premier club teams in North America and Europe, in the style of soccer’s cross-league international tournament.

Chris Botta, an NHL and soccer business writer for Sports Business Journal, reported the plan Tuesday.

The new tournament would be part of the league’s three-year plan to generate $1 billion more in revenue.

When the NHL and NHLPA met with the International Ice Hockey Federation this year to arrange a plan to send NHL players to Sochi in 2014, they also spoke of expanding international competition beyond the Olympics.

This is the first report of a Champions Cup, however, which, unlike the World Cup — last played in 2004 — would feature club teams as opposed to national outfits.

“We talked about the World Cup and that is included in the terms of our Player Transfer Agreement and the (anticipation) that we will cooperate on something like the World Cup of Hockey,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told NHL.com in May. “It’s obviously something we have been talking about with the (NHL) Players’ Association, and I think we have a conceptual understanding with them that we should be in a position to play in World Cups and announce them soon.”

The idea of NHL clubs competing against teams from, say, the KHL or Swedish Elite League raises many questions, says NHL alumnus and Hockey Central analyst Marty McSorley.

“Let’s say you have Chicago playing the best team from Russia. Joel Quenneville will play (Jonathan) Toews two shifts and (Patrick) Kane two shifts and then play his third goaltender. As a player, you’re looking it as a glorified scrimmage, but at the end you have the Russian team happy and cheering because they won? As a player you’ll feel, we didn’t give them our best,” says McSorley. “I can’t see that teams are going to be that committed to this.”

As a member of the Los Angeles Kings, McSorley participated in the 1988-89 Super Series against touring Soviet club Dinamo Riga. The Kings lost 5-3, and the experience left McSorley sour.

“You put your gear on, and you’re on the bench hardly playing,” McSorley remembers. “You’re like, ‘This is a waste of time.’

“I have a hard, hard time believing the NHL Players’ Association will go for it.”

The only way McSorely sees the idea working is if the games count towards a team’s chase for the Stanley Cup. But even then there will be issues regarding player discipline, insurance, travel and the level of competition. It gets complicated.

“I can’t see you adding more games onto a team’s schedule after they’ve been to the Stanley Cup finals,” McSorely says. “If you’re asking your players to take those games seriously, realistically (consider) how much can you tax your stars?”

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I'd be quite happy to see this. I love the Champions League in football. Let the NHL prove that it's the best league in the world.

Ditch the World Championships and play the top 2 or 3 teams from each league during the offseason. Have the Olympics every 4 years, bring back the World Cup and play that every 4 years, and play this in the years in between. September. Inter-league competition is something that hockey is severely lacking.

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I'd be quite happy to see this. I love the Champions League in football. Let the NHL prove that it's the best league in the world.

Ditch the World Championships and play the top 3 or 4 teams from each league during the offseason. Have the Olympics every 4 years, bring back the World Cup and play that every 4 years, and play this in the years in between. September. Inter-league competition is something that hockey is severely lacking.

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I'd be quite happy to see this. I love the Champions League in football. Let the NHL prove that it's the best league in the world.

Ditch the World Championships and play the top 2 or 3 teams from each league during the offseason. Have the Olympics every 4 years, bring back the World Cup and play that every 4 years, and play this in the years in between. September. Inter-league competition is something that hockey is severely lacking.

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Just for a minute here, had the Canucks won the Cup against Boston, would you really be stoked to watch them lug their bruised and battered selves around the ice surface for another week or 2 when they could be rehabbing and reconditioning to get back to game form for the next season?

I would rather them get healthy.

So, how does this work? Give teams the option to participate? If they do, what is the incentive? Finance? These guys make loads of money already, most of them, so that might not be it. Bragging rights? Maybe, most pro sports players are proud so that does have a value, though it isn't very tangible. This idea definitely cuts into already limited family time after the season ends as well.

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Hockey is amongst the most taxing sports on the planet. To do a champions league, world cup and olympic would dilute the NHL product like crazy. That is my argument against a champions league style tourney. No way in hell they could pull off all 3 and not dilute the product.

Also there would be injuries everywhere

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If you read my post, only one of said tournaments would be played in a season/year.

e.g. 2014 - Olympics

2015 - Champions League

2016 - World Cup

2017 - Champions League

Then you're not playing each tournament so often that it's predictable and boring, and there wouldn't be injuries everywhere. Say you play it in September - participating teams could use it as their preseason and concentrate on youth and depth player development in North America while they play abroad. Brings in a ton of money and they have good, competitive teams against determined opposition to prepare them for the season ahead.

If it was played in September and not directly after the season's ended. I'd love to see the Canucks try to prove themselves against the best of the rest. My post above addresses some of your other points.

If I were a hockey player I'd be determined to prove that my team is the best in the world on the ice and not just on paper. It would take some thought and time to implement it but I believe it can be done.

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I think this would actually be pretty sweet. You get teams from all around the globe going at it and competing try to prove themselves as the best of the best. It would be a great experience for Russian/European NHL players in general as they'd get to possibly face off against their fellow countrymen and friends in general.

Only con I see is where would this fit? - would it replace the Allstar weekend? If not, how much can you make the NHL players play who already play a fatiguing 82 games and then some in the postseason. Even for teams who don't make the playoffs, the regular season alone is very tiring.

...if they can manage to work around that so NHL players can play to a fair extent of not overly tiring themselves out, I would be all in for this! Would be extremely exciting and getting to see different teams from different leagues playing different styles of hockey; it'd really put into perspective which league gets bragging rights as the best of the best. Heck, if a Russian team won, it might make players like Ovie and others go back home considering they're only in the NHL becuase they want to play in the best league in the world.

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Also, just a question that came to mind - unlike football where the pitch is stable and used universally for the most part, what ice would they use for a champions league tournament?

I know the ice in Russia/Europe is traditionally bigger than the one in the NHL and in other places in the world like Australia, what ice size do they use? How would they get this to work?

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If it was played in September and not directly after the season's ended. I'd love to see the Canucks try to prove themselves against the best of the rest. My post above addresses some of your other points.

If I were a hockey player I'd be determined to prove that my team is the best in the world on the ice and not just on paper. It would take some thought and time to implement it but I believe it can be done.

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Also, just a question that came to mind - unlike football where the pitch is stable and used universally for the most part, what ice would they use for a champions league tournament?

I know the ice in Russia/Europe is traditionally bigger than the one in the NHL and in other places in the world like Australia, what ice size do they use? How would they get this to work?

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Also, just a question that came to mind - unlike football where the pitch is stable and used universally for the most part, what ice would they use for a champions league tournament?

I know the ice in Russia/Europe is traditionally bigger than the one in the NHL and in other places in the world like Australia, what ice size do they use? How would they get this to work?

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