Raptor Writings – Forward with Forsberg? NHL games at European times

My erstwhile masters at Pucks Across the Pond tweeted a link to a You Tube video recently. Retired Swedish player Peter Forsberg, Colorado Avalanche legend and Olympic Gold medal winner has got together with European gambling site Oddset to produce a rather interesting video.

 

In the 10 minute long piece Forsberg is followed around New York and Colorado as he tries to persuade people of the benefits of moving NHL faceoff times so that there are games on TV at prime time in Europe. The chief point being that the NHL, a league with many European fans and players (including the current Stanley Cup winning captain) can grow its brand in Europe by tailoring itself a bit more to foreign markets. However he also makes the point that it’ll benefit North American audiences as well. Kids who want to go to games won’t be late to bed, people can do more with their days, Forsberg even tries to convince the wives of his former Avs team mates saying they’ll be home earlier to spend time with them.

 

After a summer where a lot of focus has been put on the NHL’s TV deals, I’m intrigued though not surprised that this idea has been floated not least from Scandinavia where the a few teams started the season. Yes the NHL is a North American based league but it has global reach and a solid stronghold in Europe. The fans here want to be taken into account for the time and effort they put into following their team.

 

As this idea floated round the internet recently the chief argument that’s been put forward against this idea by some I speak to is “why should they?” The NHL is a North American league and the home markets for the teams have to come first. Take a team like San Jose Sharks; they compete for fans in a very busy local sporting market against the Chargers of the NFL and the local college football side San Jose State Aztecs. For a Sharks home game to be played at a time to suit European audiences they’d have to face off at midday at a weekend bringing them right up against college football on Saturday or the NFL on a Sunday. Why should teams and local fans suffer to suit people 8 or 9 time zones away?

 

Whilst there is a lot to take into account, I think Forsberg’s idea is pretty decent. The NHL markets itself as the best hockey league in the world with the most skilled players so it’s only natural that people outside of North America want a bit of input. I appreciate the point critics of this idea make but a game a week or every fortnight, is that such a bad idea? There are logistical issues to be overcome but following the fiasco over the summer that has dented their image to European fans, the least the league can do is listen to Forsberg. The NHL wants to grow its brand? Time to prove it.

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