The Hockey News
1/26/2007 2:13:48 PM
The NHL's All-Star Game is gone until next season, but International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel is angling to put on a different battle of the stars: The Stanley Cup champion vs. the best team in Europe.
''We must have a club championship - the winner of the Stanley Cup against the winner of the European Hockey League,'' Fasel told The Hockey News in an interview with Paul Romanuk. ''It is a must for the NHL and it is a must for us. It is a must for the hockey fans and for the game of hockey. Hockey needs it on both sides.''
According to Fasel, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hasn't rejected the IIHF's overture.
''They are not against it,'' Fasel said. ''It was not a 'no' from Gary.''
Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner, confirmed discussions have taken place between the league and IIHF. But he cautioned against expectations that an announcement of such a game is imminent.
''While we are open to exploring a host of ways to co-operate and grow the game internationally, there are naturally many logistical issues that would need to be worked through to move forward with such an exhibition, not the least of which is the timing,'' Daly said Friday in an e-mail response to questions from The Hockey News. ''I expect we will have further discussions on the concept, but (it is) premature to suggest it is something that will definitely happen in the future.''
Daly also said expanding the league's international footprint is ''a key element of our business and strategic plans moving forward, and we are currently working on a number of initiatives in that regard.
''Obviously, we're looking to maximize the distribution of our television games internationally, and we're working with our international broadcast partner NASN (North American Sports Network) on that as well as the potential streaming of a package of games internationally over the internet,'' Daly wrote. ''I can't be more specific at this point in time, but I would also expect us to be in a position to discuss publicly at least one other major international initiative in the next several weeks.''