The NHL has long been recognized as the best professional hockey league in the world, but have you ever wondered how the top teams in our league would do against the top teams in Europe in a big game?
Well, it looks like the NHL is looking into joining the Champions Hockey League.
What's that, you ask? I remember asking myself the very same question while channel surfing last year and finding a Champions Hockey League game.
So I fired up the laptop and, as it turned out, the CHL (not to be confused with the KHL) was in its first year and is sort of modelled after soccer's Champions League. Basically, the top hockey clubs in Europe play off for the opportunity to be crowned European champions.
The winner is awarded the Silver Stone Trophy (which has been handed out to the top team in Europe since 1997) and they earn a spot in the Victoria Cup, where they face off against an NHL team.
The New York Rangers beat Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the inaugural Victoria Cup; this September it'll be the Chicago Blackhawks and the ZSC Lions. The IIHF wants the Stanley Cup champion to play in the winner-takes-all game, but so far the NHL has said no.
Unfortunately, due to the global economic crisis, the 2009-10 Champions Hockey League season has been cancelled, but the IIHF says it WILL be back.
The IIHF also states in a press release that the NHL has "declared interested to join" the league.
How that'll work though, I have no idea.
Last year, the group stages ran for three days in October, two days in November and one day in December; the semi-finals went one day in December and one in January and the finals were near the end of January.
If the NHL team(s) had to play in the group stages, they'd somehow have to find time during the busy regular season to play these games, whether here in North America or over in Europe. You'd almost think they'd have to schedule it during the summer, but I don't see that working either.
So it seems like an unlikely prospect, but it's defintiely an interesting thought! One way it could almost work is if they made a North American pool, with the top few teams in the NHL and the AHL making up the group. But even then, I just don't see it happening...
What do you think, would you like to see more interaction between the top-level clubs in Europe and the best teams in North America?