Monday, March 28, 2011
Sources: NHL downsizes 'Premiere'
By Pierre LeBrun
The NHL's original plan to have six of its teams open the regular season overseas next season has been downsized to four, sources told ESPN.com on Saturday.
The Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals, part of the original six teams asked to participate, are no longer in the mix for the Premiere Games, the sources said.
The New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Buffalo Sabres remain slated to open next season in Europe.
They won't, however, play their games in Russia. As reported earlier, talks between the KHL and NHL have fallen through and there won't be any Premiere Games in Russia as originally hoped. That's why Alex Ovechkin and the Caps are no longer in the Premiere Games mix. They were only a fit if Ovechkin could play a game in his home country.
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.
Sources said that Stockholm, Helsinki and possibly Berlin are in the mix to host Premiere Games next fall.
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.