No Foreign Oil?

For the last few years, the NHL has been sending various teams overseas to start the NHL season, with those teams playing regular season games in European cities. For the first time, the league included Edmonton in the plans, with the Oilers slated to play the Capitals in Russia to kick off 2011-12. Unfortunately, it appears those plans have been kyboshed.

According to a report published this morning over at ESPN by the eminently credible Pierre LeBrun, the NHL and the KHL weren’t able to work out an agreement that would have seen the NHL teams start the season in Russia:

While KHL president Alexander Medvedev said last week in Russia that the NHL had asked for too much money and that’s why the games are a no-go, two sources told ESPN.com that another reason for the collapse in talks was that Medvedev was "resistant" to the notion of two NHL teams playing each other in Russia. Instead, the KHL president wanted the two NHL teams to face off against KHL clubs. The NHL balked — the point of the Premiere Games is to feature regular-season NHL games between NHL teams.

It’s a report that makes a lot of sense; the KHL is a very good league and having KHL teams faceoff against teams from the NHL would certainly have given the league a boost in legitimacy (particularly since they stood a good chance of going 0.500 if one of the teams was the Edmonton Oilers). It’s equally clear why the NHL would not want to participate; aside from the fact the league doesn’t especially want the KHL to look like a credible alternative, the whole point of these overseas games is to sell the best league in the world to a foreign hockey market. Playing against KHL teams doesn’t really help them do that.

Still, I think it’s a shame we haven’t seen at least preseason games between KHL and NHL teams; I know I’d tune in to watch them, and I’m a guy who generally views the preseason as a crass commercial venture with almost no relevance to regular season hockey. At least with KHL teams in the mix it would be interesting.

Apparently, Hockey And Earth Hour Don’t Get Along

Earth Hour, the annual event where people all over the world turn off non-essential electricity for an hour to boost environmental awareness, failed to resonate in Alberta’s two biggest cities. Articles at both CBC and the Vancouver Sun blamed unusually cold temperatures, and the Flames/Oilers tilt on Hockey Night in Canada for the fact that power usage actually increased that hour rather than going down.

With Calgary fighting for an increasingly unlikely playoff spot, I’m not surprised power went up there. Honestly though, given how incredibly loyal Edmonton Oilers fans are, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that enough people tuned in to watch to make a difference in power usage.

Bunz Injured

Tyler Bunz, the Oilers fifth round pick in last summer’s draft, is going to miss at least two playoff games after suffering a concussion. Bunz, whose selection in last year’s draft seemed a little suspect at the time, has had a breakthrough season with Medicine Hat, with his save percentage jumping from 0.898 last season all the way up to 0.919 this season.

  • Oiler Country

    My take on Earth Hour… it’s symbolic. There really should be Earth month where we are reminded for an entire month about the waste of electricity. So the concept of an hour is a good one, is it practical.. not really. Just my own uninformed opinion there.

    What did this have to do with hockey?

    Um….not much.

    As for the KHL v the NHL… I would love to see it, but the chances of anything like that happening is unlikely. If anything, the KHL “allstars” could tour NHL cities and put on tournaments against NHL “allstars” like a “Team Canada” but no team in either league will put their names against the other.

  • A few weeks ago, a CTV reporter stated the Oilers would not be going overseas. I was quite disappointed since I was going to reorganize my overseas trip to hit up a game, I assumed it would be Sweden but Russia eh? I’m even more disappointed…would have loved to see Oilers play in Russia. Maybe another time.

  • A little late. The day after Taylor Hall got hurt, the Oil put a press release out saying Hall would miss rest of season and they would not be going to Europe next year. To bad, as our Swedes could of played in their home country.

  • Ducey

    Meh,

    unless the idea was to mimic the Harlem Globetrotters concept and guarantee Ovenchicken and the Capitals a win, picking the Oilers in an NHL showcase event seems strange in the first place.

    Given all their young players, its probably better that the Oilers spend the time they would have spent travelling on systems work (PK, PP, etc) right here in river city.

  • Dyckster

    Speaking of next season, I would think most people on this blog believe rookies Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi will only be stronger next year. Omark, probably, he has good puck control and is tough. What about Hartikainen, is he NHL ready? Could Lander be in the mix? If the Oilers #1 draft pick is a forward, can they afford not to keep him in the lineup?

    If the management intends for the Oilers to compete for a playoff position, which isn’t easy in the Western Conference, will the off-injured Hemsky be back? Who will line up at centre? Horcoff and Gagner (both out with injuries) are at best 3rd line Cs, but playing beyond their real positions by default. Appears Jones, with his energy, is in the mix, and maybe Cogliano. Will Brule and Reddox fit into the new group of forwards? There are only 12 slots.

    Will Tambo finally locate some complementary forwards, real NHLers, to bring balance and toughness to a group of small forwards that get pushed around a lot? The challenges on addressing the problems on D are even tougher.

  • Dan the Man

    Given the fact that most teams that start the season in Europe usually struggle out of the gate, this is probably a good thing for the Oilers.

    They don’t need anymore help in being bad right now.

  • Mike IA

    “Earth Hour, the annual event where people all over the world turn off non-essential electricity for an hour to boost environmental awareness, failed to resonate in Alberta’s two biggest cities. ”

    Isn’t it actually Human Achievement Hour? And we are supposed to use as much energy as possible?

  • Dyckster

    ANY NHL v.s. KHL game would be a no win for the North American team. Win the game, and it’s suppose to happen cuz it’s generally regarded as a better league. Lose the game however…

    As a minor hockey coach I never engaged in a an exhibition game against a team that was thought to be at a lower level for these exact reasons. Although I ALWAYS jumped at the chance at playing a team which was in a higher division or whatever.

  • Ender

    While it completely makes sense that the KHL playing the NHL only serves the KHL, the thing that confuses me is why the NHL needs the KHL’s permission at all. Does the KHL own every rink in Russia? All the NHL needs is a facility and a promoter. I would think they could put together both of those things without the cooperation of the KHL.

    Bad blood? Maybe, but I can’t see why the NHL would care. I’ll tell you this; if the NFL ever decided to have the Pitt. Steelers and the Det. Lions play a game in Toronto, I doubt very much that they’d be picking up the phone to ask the CFL’s permission.

  • Coco Crsip

    Huh. How about that? I didn’t know Earth Hour was on Saturday until right now.

    Oh well. I’ve never really bought into those foolish, one-off environmental events like Earth Day. Shouldn’t every day be Earth Day? And why an hour on a weekend in March? Don’t the organizers realize that some of the world is still under two feet of snow at that time?

    Anyway, I absolutely love the irony of power usage going up for that hour in Alberta rather than down. I don’t know why I love it, but I just do.

    Re: The NHL playing exhibition games against the KHL. You know what? I think the NHL should play some games against the KHL, regardless of whether or not they have anything to lose over it. What the heck? Yeah, there’s a chance an NHL team (like ours) will lose to a KHL team, but so what? Back in the 1980s, some of those touring Soviet Elite League teams (Red Army, Dynamo, etc.) beat NHL teams and nobody’s reputation took a hit.

    The NHL’s gotta realize that there’s not really any large threat from the KHL. It’s a league that has a couple of nice cities and arenas and a whole bunch more that are close to Third-World-poor. Sure, it’s going to keep some Russian kids at home for a while but if some NHLers can’t bear the thought of playing in Winnipeg or Buffalo (or Edmonton), then they’re not going to pack up for Omsk.

    Plus, Cherapanov’s death a few years ago exposed some major problems with that league in terms of its infrastructure and support for players. There are many things that Russia stinks at and workplace health and safety would be high on the list.

    Hockey-wise, it’s a league that’s somewhere between the AHL and the NHL – a Russian version of the old International Hockey League. If I’m the KHL commissioner or czar (tsar?) or whatever, I’d be phoning the AHL commish and inviting them over for some exhibition games. If the KHL champion lights up the Hershey Bears, then you’d have a pretty good case for approaching the NHL.

    But, again, I don’t think the NHL would have to be worried about “losing face” if one of their teams lost to a KHL team. The fact of the matter is, there are probably some darn good AHL teams that could beat any one of the bottom-third of the NHL teams.

    • Horcsky

      Zarf said: “The fact of the matter is, there are probably some darn good AHL teams that could beat any one of the bottom-third of the NHL teams”.

      Let’s not get crazy now.

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          I’ll be honest, if it was just the AHL team with none of the NHLers it wouldn’t have surprised me to see a win. I think out minor players as a unit are very good.

      • Skidplate

        Aw, heck. It ain’t that crazy of a thought. In fact, I suspect it’s always been so.

        I’m not talking seven-game series, here. I mean a one-off game.

        There have been some pretty dreadful NHL teams going back a lot of years and some pretty darn good AHL teams.

        And, like I say, some of those touring Soviet club teams beat the NHL teams, mid-season, during the 1980s, including our Gretzky-era Oilers. And, Central Red Army aside, the average Soviet Elite League team in the 1980s probably wasn’t any better than a top-3 AHL or IHL team.

        It’s not a crazy notion.

        • Horcsky

          Perhaps you may be undervaluing the Soviet Elite teams a little? I don’t claim to be that old, or know much about Euro/Russian leagues, but if the Soviet Elite league was the best league over there at the time, then it employed the best players on that continent. The AHL isn’t even close to being the best league on this continent, and employs the 2nd-best group of players over here right now.

          Seems like Soviet vs. NHL was best vs. best, whereas AHL vs. NHL would be best vs. 2nd best.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I know Lowe really wanted the whole European experience for the Oilers and was told that you just have to ask if you want to go. But why would the NHL have one of the best teams in the NHL go up against one of the worse?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Good on Mr. Medvedev. I think it’s good to have someone say no thanks to the NHL at those prices.

    Perhaps there is an opportunity here for the Canucks,Flames and Oilers to get together and bring the two KHL finalists over for half dozen games. Two games a piece against KHL teams would certainly spice up the preseason. Maybe that’s not as problematic as going over there for Reg season games. Reminds me of the last year of the WHA when the Oilers had a few NHL clubs come through during the preseason. I’ll never forget the Washington Capitals Randy Holt on top of Steve Carlson bouncing his head off the ice behind Dave Dryden….. good times.

  • Great comments here.

    @ Matthew:

    Thanks, I wasn’t aware of that. I’ll have to keep a closer eye for that sort of thing this year.

    @ Oil the Time:

    Fair enough. I guess I’ll have to read my Oilers press releases more closely 😉

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Do you ever really see much when it comes to Oil and NCAA guys? Was there lots of talk on Fedun?

      Also what’s so special about this kid?

    • Skidplate

      WARNING WARNING!!!

      The link from Jonathan takes you to the scariest site I have ever visited on the web.

      Please Jonathan, for the love of God and everything that is holy, next time warn us before linking to something so horrible. 😉

  • Coco Crsip

    A little (way) off topic, however, I ventured over to Flamers Nation, to notice their in game thread… Just wondering, why doesn’t ON do this? Especially for games against the Flames. What a perfect opportunity to have a chat room entirely dedicated to rip apart flames and their fans.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I tried to do that wolf in sheeps clothing thing a couple weeks ago over there. Kent Wilson, at the first sign of anti Lames conversation and he blocks you. Would’ve been pretty ugly last Saturday.

      Ross Creek did one a few weeks ago and it went over fairly well. Not sure if it’ll become a regular feature over here.

      • Coco Crsip

        I could feel my skin crawl off my body when I witnessed the shenanigans those clowns take part of over there.

        But I do think it is a great idea. Not for all games, maybe just for specific games, such as Calgary, Vancouver.

        And really, some of the comments were just garbage. My dog could come up with better. Making fun of all the wounded.. Ryan Jones’ hair. Even Taylor Hall’s dangles! Filth.

        I would love to enjoy one night full of ripping apart regehr or jokenin.

  • Skidplate

    Since off topic a little bit, when can we expect an article outlining the likely movement that tambo is going to try an accomplish this off season? Or is he just going to let the dice roll as they are? I would love to hear a little bit of inside info on what he hopes to accomplish before next season.

  • Ducey

    I am not sure that De Costa is really a good fit for the Oilers.

    Here is a recent article on a number of college free agents including De Costa and House:

    http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/12872/ten_collegians_drawing_nhl_free_agent_interest/

    De Costa is 180 lbs as a senior, not known for being physical and has ok speed. Seems to me he is not going to play top 6 on the Oilers and doesn’t have the profile (size, grit, checking) of a bottom 6 player. I like the look of Tanner House better.

    Of course, I have never seen any of these guys play, so what do I know.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Actually I really like the sound of Rick Schofield. Seems to have more of a full package from the sound of it. Wins draws, finished check, great vision and get complimented on his hockey sense. Apparently has good hands and distributes well. Has the ability to be a force on the ice every shift. That is exactly what any team needs. I’m surprised that hes not getting more attention from a lot of other teams.

  • Coco Crsip

    Willis, this is damn good news. Why do you want a young team to start a season off in Siberia or anywhere in Europe?
    This team has enough issues to begin with.

  • Coco Crsip

    It seems like the KHL wants to play a game against the NHL so why not try something like this :

    All Star game NHL stars vs KHL stars.

    Skills competetion and the game , you could even award a cup.

    At least then the All star game may have some meaning.

    • VMR

      Except the same problem exists, the KHL players would have something to show they’re playing against the best players in the world while the NHL players have nothing to play for except a meaningless all-star type game and risk injury by participating.

      It’s a bad deal for the NHL.

  • VMR

    It doesnt make a lot of sense to have any Canadian teams playing overseas. We’ll sell out here anyways may as well send Phoenix vs Atlanta, they’ll make more revenue overseas then they would at home.

    I dont really understand what the league hopes to gain overseas, is it really just marketing jerseys? Television rights?