Scott Burnside, the award-winning ESPN hockey writer and all-around swell guy, is in Europe to cover the opening of the NHL season. The NHL, in case you weren't aware, doesn't have any teams in Europe. Doesn't matter. It appears the league likes it there and wants to stay.
NHL Players Association President Paul Kelly told Burnside in Berlin that people can expect regular-season games to continue -- and expand -- overseas. Two teams started in London last year, four teams are starting in Sweden and the Czech Republic, and Kelly told Burnside that as many as eight teams could cross the Pond next fall.
I don't know. It certainly isn't going to help any of the teams grow their fan base. Think folks in Stockholm are going to watch the Penguins and book their flight to a Pens-Islanders game in March? Um, no.
There are too many teams in the United States struggling to draw sellouts. Sending them overseas won't create interest on the home front.
I guess as far as recruiting players to the NHL, it's a good move. The young guys over there may see how great the hockey is and want to come to North American rather than stay in the European leagues.
And, of course, the biggest reasons for holding games in Europe are to make money, as Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Canadian Press, and eventually create a European Division in the NHL. But that'd be a long way down the road.