It looks like the European hockey leagues have gotten an opportunity. With the import of so much NHL talent flooding their markets, several of the leagues have been given a rare chance to reach out to North American audiences. For some, its a chance for the fans to connect again with their players. For the European leagues, it gives them a window of opportunity that they wouldn’t normally have.
On Monday, Russia’s Continental Hockey League (KHL) announced that it reached an agreement to have five games streamed live on ESPN3.com. It’s a win-win for everybody (save Gary Bettman). The KHL gets good exposure, the players see an opportunity to be seen, and Bruins Nation gets to see one of our own dominating on the ice. (It’s just a shame he won’t be doing it wearing the spoked ‘B’.) Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has just signed with the KHL’s Prague. That team is scheduled to appear on the online network on Saturday and Tuesday.
Russia is not the only nation enjoying the extra media exposure. Patrice Bergeron, who signed on with the the Swiss HC Lugano, will have an extra surprise as well. On October 20th, Lugano will be squaring off against EHC Biel. That team picked up Tyler Seguin last week. That’s going to be fun,” said Bergeron, who left for Switzerland today. “But it’s going to be different. Ever since he’s been in the league I’ve been with him. . . . From speaking to him, it’s supposed to be a very good league.”
As a NHL fan, I’m sure I share the same collective frustration as all of you. The games we will get to see will be sporatic, and the players will be love will not be in their ‘home’ colors. (If anyone has seen the picture of Tyler Seguin in his Swiss jeresey, it looks like he got hit by a NASCAR vehicle – between the colors and all the advertisements splattered on it.) There might be a brightside to this. Several European players that got overlooked by scouts might be given a chance to shine here once the lockout ends.