The Dark Ranger is pissed. Unfortunately, not in the British way of having too much to drink. I read about the following a number of months ago, but I thought there was as much a chance of this happening as there was for a Hamilton Predators franchise.
On September 29 & 30, the NHL season opens with the Stanley Cup Champions, the Anaheim Ducks, playing their rival Los Angeles Kings in London at the O2 Arena in London. Did you hear that? As Brian Burke, general manager of the Ducks says, "This a great honour for us, to be chosen to play in the NHL's first regular-season games in Europe. Showcasing a great rivalry between two clubs from the Southern California market will be terrific for the NHL."
This is perhaps one of the most retarded hockey events ever. Most of Europe cares about hockey. Russia cares about hockey. Great Britain does not care about hockey that much. That is why all of the interested European countries already have their own hockey leagues -- good ones. The NHL will just further dilute itself in the world market. Hey Bettman, here, The Dark Ranger, maybe a deal with those ESPN jerks instead?
Let us learn from the world of professional soccer, where the "world's sport" is attempting to penetrate North America by importing David Beckham - one of the most famous soccer players in the world. With all the press here, still no one cares. They are even cross-promoting his semi-hot wife, Posh Spice, as the British Invasion! They are promoting and buying their way through the media into our living rooms. Will anyone really care at the end of the day? The British press is currently declaring David Beckham's coming to America as something embraced by Americans resembling Beatlemania, when we've seen almost nothing of it. We don't care. Good press does not buy the public interest , especially in sports.
Coincidentally and intentionally, the same joker who paid David Beckham $50 million a year to try and make something of the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer franchise, also happens to own the Los Angeles Kings hockey franchise AND the O2 Arena that the opening NHL 2007 season game in London is taking place! Coincidence? Phil Anschutz is the 31st richest person in the world, who owns the largest entertainment company in the world (AEG) (American Idol, the entire Elvis catalogue, etc.) and a multitude of arenas, soccer teams and 'soon-to-be' more hockey teams.
I am disappointed because this guy is vertically crossing his assets, not helping the NHL!!! He is buying and paying for a bad idea (as he has every right to do) and hockey will not benefit from this event, and it appears to me that Phil Anschutz is exploiting a hockey league that has clearly run out of ideas on how to brand itself. You may say, "let him pay for everything, it won't cost the league a thing" and you may be right -- but we are much better planning events that have something to do with the NHL and hockey in general. An example of one of the more interesting hockey events this upcoming season is the outdoor Buffalo Sabres vs Pittsburgh Penguins regular season game in January.... in an arena. This is spectacular -- 'and may it snow!' during the game and on the players!!!! Give hockey fanatics a little taste of what football "blowhards" are talking about. Cold, snow, hockey, outdoors, Buffalo -- all relate to the sport. London -- not really.
In the states, the NHL franchise is relatively unknown next to our Canadian brethren, but for the knowing and loyal American fans that lay down our paychecks every season, preach hockey every chance we get to strangers across our land, I can strongly declare that we are still 'keeping it real.'
A season-opener NHL hockey game in London is bollocks!
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