With the threat of a delayed start to the 2012-13 season due to the looming labor showdown to hammer out a new CBA, the NHL won’t be opening its regular season in Europe next year as has become customary in recent years.
Not to worry though, the Kontinental Hockey League is hoping to bring European hockey to North America instead.
The KHL plans to play a pair of regular-season games in Brooklyn next January, according to a report by Dmitry Chesnokov of the Yahoo! Puck Daddy blog. The plan is to hold the games at the new Barclays Center, the home of the NBA’s Nets, who are owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.
Brooklyn is also home to a large Russian population, which could add to the appeal of the games. It could also be an interesting option for NHL fans if this latest round of labor negotiations causes a shutdown anywhere near the length of the last owners’ lockout.
Even if the NHL is up and running next winter, the chance to see another league in person and compare the style and level of play of what is largely considered the second best professional league in the world should elicit some curiosity from Big Apple hockey fans. The KHL hopes to make as big a splash as possible, with several of its marquee teams and players likely to be chosen to make the trip, though the actual participants for the proposed games have not been finalized.
“In January before the [KHL] All Star Games the KHL will hold two regular season games at the new Brooklyn arena. We are planning to send teams with names to New York,” KHL president Alexander Medvedev told Sovetsky Sport on Tuesday, as translated by Chesnokov.
“There are five candidates at this time,” Medvedev added. “They are CSKA, Dynamo [the reigning KHL champion], as well as the teams [Jaromir] Jagr and [Alexander] Radulov played for [Avangard Omsk and Salavat Yulaev] and SKA St. Petersburgh. I am sure these games will be sold out.”
Despite the announcement in Sovetsky Sport, Chesnokov reported that it’s not quite a done deal yet.
“Discussions with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment are ongoing about having two games in January 2013,” a KHL representative told Chesnokov. “There isn’t anything official/done to be announced at this time.”
Still, if the games do come to fruition, it will be a welcome chance for a unique hockey experience with a taste of European hockey on North American soil.