Sunday, July 22, 2007

An NHL-British Invasion?

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!



  1. Does this come as a surprise to anyone that big business is taking over a struggling sport? funny there has not, though, been any press about this Phil dude owning every aspect of the first NHL game. that's fishy.

    nice site Ranger...


  2. I'm not sure I agree with you on this one. I don't mind the NHL opening in London. More than any other league the NHL has an international infrastructure in place. While there are more hockey mad countries over there (Sweeden comes to mind) London isn't a bad first choice, because the logistics are a little easier to facilitate.

    Hey with Bettman, just be happy he didn't choose Barcelona or Athens. "We can grow the sport in these southern mediterranian coastal towns"

  3. I think it's kind of cool. It's an attempt, if nothing else, to expose hockey to a place that might not really cherish it quite yet.

    Will it fail? Oh, more than likely.

    It could be worse, we could be opening the season in Africa.


  4. I'll be the first watching the damn thing at 1pm EST, that's for sure -- I appreciate all your comments but still feel that a London opening is a mess.

    There are still over ten teams in the current league that lose money and "expos(ing) hockey to a place that might not really cherish it quite yet." could very well be Atlanta, Nashville, Florida, Carolina, Phoenix, etc.

    Who knows? Maybe NBC will actually broadcast both games through the third period this time around!!!???

  5. TDR --
    Good point about the small markets within the NHL. The fact that Florida still has an NHL team really bugs me, especially when you have a ton of people complaining that Columbus of all places should be contracted or relocated.

    Uh, yeah, let's get rid of a team that sells out their arena EVERY game.

    Sure, the BJs may, well, suck, but as long as they're putting the butts in the seat, they're fine right now. Now, ten years from now and they're still losing on a consistent basis? You might have a big problem -- I doubt people will want to continue to shovel the money to an awful team.

    ...sorry, I went off on quite a tangent there, didn't I? Eh, regardless, there is potential for London to work out, but you're probably right -- this is a bad move for the NHL.


  6. I can only hope that some remnant of the Flyers - now coach of the month Hitchcock - can make something of those BlueJackets...on the tangent.
    I don't mind the London opening of the season but i agree that the Brits dont' care about hockey all that much. re: outdoor hockey.

    wasn't there a las vegas hockey game with gretzsky years back?

  7. dj,...couldn't find anything, but never forget:

    Call them the Great Betskys.

    Hockey icon Wayne Gretzky, under scrutiny after his wife, Janet Jones, was implicated in a sports betting ring, has lost more than $2 million in Las Vegas casinos, an insider said.

    Now THAT, is hockey in Vegas!

  8. If the NFL can play in London, the the NHL shouldn't have any problem. American football is not looked upon favorably there, wheras Ice Hockey is at least acknowledged as a decent sport there.

  9. So this is what the off season looks like? Stories on billionaires who own hockey teams and trying to advertise them? Hey ranger, maybe you should get 'pissed' at not having a defense or maybe get 'pissed' that your a Rangers fan.

    A visiting blogger just like u.

  10. Now isn't that special! Rangers fan here for life Mr/Ms. Anonymous! Thanks for the support.

    KA-POWWW!!!! CRANK!!!!(Anonymous' head hits the ice).

  11. Not to rain on your parade, TDR, but hockey in England is bigger than you think. Former New York Ranger Theoren Fleury played for the Belfast Giants for a season.

    The EIHL is a pretty decent league, and it is growing as a choice for Euro-leagues for players unable to make an NHL team.

    The NHL might not draw the crowds that MSG or the ACC get, but that game will draw 10,000 fans ta minimum. That's as good as Game One in Japan did, and it doesn't hurt to grow your game internationally to help the development of players in the host country.

  12. (hhhmmmm....). Gggrrrr....
    "Blame it on the rain"...

    I still don't think the NHL should be branding itself in England - as they should spend time on the franchises here -- as a third of the entire NHL needs branding help.

    I'm okay with exhibition games in Africa, Barcelona, Athens and even London, but two OPENING in-season games would be upsetting for a season-ticket-holder in LA or Anaheim.

    Most of Europe has steady and good hockey leagues, perhaps what I should have said was England is one of the least desirable of them.

    Soccer anyone?

  13. I myself am English and i also play hockey and let me just say that the NFL and NHL are alot bigger than you think out here. So our leagues arent as good as yours or some other europeans? That doesnt mean we still cant love these sports. And just so you know both matches were complete sell outs. I think thats kinda good seeing as alot of you guys cant do that?


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