Over the weekend, Pierre LeBrun reported that the NHL had invited the Ducks to participate in the league's Premiere Games, their season-opening overseas series, next year. OCR confirmed the report but noted that the Ducks had yet to make a decision.
The Ducks and Kings participated in the first Premiere games in London in 2007. And going farther back, Anaheim and Vancouver played the first NHL regular season games outside of North America ten years earlier in Tokyo.
Arthur, should the Ducks participate in the Premiere Games next year?
I have to say an emphatic NO on this one. The experience was a disaster for the Ducks the first time around. The Sharks don't exactly look better for having participated in it this season. I don't think any team that already travels more than it should during the season should ever accept wreaking additional havoc on their schedule, especially if they have the good fortune to have seen its effects already and the good sense to learn from that debacle.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against publicizing the NHL game in Europe, and maybe if we were stacked with superstars from a target region, I'd say we had no choice. But most of our core young talent is North American. Would it be nice to go to Switzerland for Jonas and Sbisa, or do a last hurrah in Finland for Koivu and Lydman (and we all want to say Selanne)? Sure. But I also bet you those players would rather have a reasonable regular season schedule and are wary of packing more miles onto the travel-heavy itinerary the NHL hands them every year.
I can understand the Ducks wanting to gain a little more exposure, considering they are from a smaller market, but these games have been nothing but trouble since their inception. And I don't think playing in Europe will get us new fans. So, I have to agree with you. The Ducks should never be a part of this program again. It's nice for the league to remember that Europeans of varying countries have a love for this game and to let the European NHL stars play in front of their countrymen, but I don't think it yields the results they hope for.
The league would be better off moving these games to the preseason, instead of making them count for regular season points. They should also make sure it's early so that players have time to recuperate from any travel time. Otherwise, do us all a favor and just get rid of it. Fans don't like losing a home game, and teams don't like the extra travel. The last thing we need is another compressed schedule after the league makes us start in Europe.