The NHL is reportedly planning on holding more global games in the near future. Commissioner Gary Bettman stated that the league has tentative plans to hold games in Prague, Stockholm, Germany, and Switzerland, though it’s clear that nothing has been officially confirmed.
The NHL has tentative plans to visit Prague, Stockholm, Germany and Switzerland next season as part of its Global Series, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Thursday.
— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) November 1, 2018
Bettman on the league’s current ideas:
“We’re in the planning stages of playing preseason games in Germany and Switzerland. We’re looking at playing a season-opening game in Prague and then two games in November in Stockholm.
Again, it’s all in the planning board. They’re not official. I don’t have dates, I don’t have teams, but that’s what on the drawing board as we speak.”
This news comes on the heels that the league is scheduling more weekend afternoon games in order to appeal to European fans. Bettman also talked about the possibility of hosting games in China at some point in the future, but that doesn’t appear to be connected to this announcement.
For the current 2018-19 season, the Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils opened their seasons in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets are playing two games in Helsinki, Finland on November 1 and November 2.
The NHL has made it clear that they want to expand into other areas around the globe. Are they approaching that goal with the proper strategy? Some don’t believe so.
There has to be a global strategy beyond playing games. The NHL has already been doing this for years. The global initiative has to be more than “let’s go over to Europe and play more games.” https://t.co/rQvi6KyYP4
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) November 1, 2018
Walsh may have a point here.
The NHL has played 22 games over in Europe prior to the 2018-19 season, and it’s difficult to assess whether or not those games have had any measurable impact. Games alone won’t accomplish what the league hopes to achieve. Moving some weekend games to an earlier start time is a much more significant move and will give Europeans a better opportunity to watch.
Stay tuned. The NHL wants to expand its global reach and they appear to be making changes in order to make that happen. They made a big misstep by skipping the 2018 Winter Olympics, but have an opportunity to right the course in 2022 by allowing players to compete in Beijing.