With Europe participating in their first Champions League right now, there is some buzz about the NHL participating in some sort of Champions League, whether it be internationally or just for North America.
Now, I have not recently seen the format of the European Hockey Champions League, but I do know the way soccer runs theirs for all of the FIFA confederations. Depending on the league, there are usually 2-4 teams in each league that qualify for the Champions League and there is a huge qualifying bracket, group stage, and knockout round.
While flying to Europe and beyond would be rigorous, there could be a certain break in the schedule that allows all of the group games or even knockout games to happen at once. It would not only increase the NHL’s exposure around the world (not that it needs to be increased) but also increase the exposure of the European teams here in the United States and Canada.
Even the junior teams in Canada could participate, but they would likely find themselves looking to qualify into the “group stage.” Same could go for the NHL and ECHL. Later on, I will take a look at what the format would look like and how the start of the Champions League would play out.
There is also a possibility for a Europe Bracket and a North American Bracket (along with what I believe is an Australian league as well). They could have those two regions play for a shot in the knockout rounds that could take place at a neutral location and have a mini tournament there.
Since there is no hockey simulator that could possibly pit these teams together, it would be impossible to try to find out the winner. Now, the way that Commissioner Gary Bettman has been about even letting his players participate in the Olympics suggests that this would simply never happen.
Truth is, whether he wants to admit it or not, Bettman won’t be around forever. There is room for this to grow into something special.
The ideas are endless and there are even grumblings that the NHL will bring a Champions League in by 2016.
Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see Ilya Kovalchuk play the Devils?
Tags: New Jersey Devils