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NHL pushing to become first major league with teams in Europe

The prospect of the National Hockey League becoming the first US major sports league to have teams based in Europe appears to have significantly increased.

In the past few days NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr both expressed their desire for expansion overseas.

“Do I see it happening someday? Yes,” Daly said on Thursday. “Do I see it happening in the short term? Probably not.”

Fehr added on Monday: “I think it would be a real positive statement to create the first really trans-ocean league. I think it would be an extraordinary achievement for everybody. Whether it will happen in my tenure remains to be seen, but hopefully sooner or later.”

According to a report, the NHL is is looking at adding an entire division of teams in Europe, with candidate cities including Stockholm, Helsinki, Moscow, Prague, London, Zurich and Berlin. Potential barriers include suitable arenas and stadium availability.

The NHL has recently sought to capitalise on its growing popularity in Europe with the expansion of the NHL Global Series and the introduction of the ‘NHL European Game of the Week’, in which 50 regular-season games have been scheduled for weekend afternoons in order to be broadcast in prime time across the continent.