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Donald Fehr sees an “enormous opportunity” to grow the game of hockey

Jun 14, 2012, 10:09 AM EDT

Donald Fehr Getty Images

With the CBA set to expire on Sept. 15, it’s easy to look at NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr with a degree of apprehension. However, part of the reason Fehr joined the NHLPA in the first place was because he has a very optimistic view about the sports’ potential internationally.

“There is an enormous opportunity in this sport internationally that doesn’t exist in other sports,” Fehr said. “The NFL is primarily watched in the U.S. Basketball has made tremendous inroads abroad but is still primarily U.S. Major League Baseball is American except for some presence in Japan.

“Hockey is different. It has an audience in North America and across Europe. There is an opportunity to create cross-Atlantic events of various sorts that could create audiences on both sides. I don’t know of another sport that can do that. That’s pretty exciting to me.”

Fehr said that he’s personally interested in having a four-year cycle for international tournaments where the Olympics are played in Year One and then a World Cup of Hockey in Year Three of the cycle.

“I do think in order to do anything, you, we have to develop a plan, and it has to be a long-term plan,” Fehr said. “Hopefully, after we get our CBA done, we will be in a position to have a discussion to see what we can figure out. But one thing is, if you want to have a large event that captures a larger audience, you need to have the best of the players, and so you’re going to want to have the NHL players involved somehow.”

The NHL still hasn’t committed to playing in the 2014 Winter Olympics and it will be interesting to see if that will be a significant subject of discussion during the upcoming CBA negotiations.

  1. murraychadwick - Jun 14, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    I will be very disappointed if the NHL players do not play in the Olympics. Olympic hockey with NHL players is second to none.

  2. pone27 - Jun 14, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    I like where Fehr is going with this.

    Besides Soccer (Futbol for those who are touchy about the name,) hockey really is a huge international sport. Could even have a North America vs. Europe type competition, or just a flat out international tournament.

  3. spavs412 - Jun 14, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    I think they have this in worlds tourney lol but def more nhlers will go a long way.. Please no lockout

  4. footballer4ever - Jun 17, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    Fehr said : ““Hockey is different, There is an enormous opportunity in this sport internationally that doesn’t exist in other sports. I don’t know of another sport that can do that. That’s pretty exciting to me.”

    IF i were a hockey fan, i’d be concerned to hear a statement like that from someone who sounds more like a salesman trying to sell ice cream in Alaska than someone who should be serious to work a league’s CBA.

    Nothing against your beloved sport and not trying to burst your bubble, but wasn’t he strictly baseball’s labor leader for many years? This guy sounds more like a preacher giving a sermon about a brighter future just as armageddon is about to begin.
    By the way, Football=futbol=futebol=fussball=calcio etc etc etc. depending which country you refer about. Futbol is a phonetic spanish word taken from the English word Football more like Baseball is to beisbol. Get your facts straight. (wink)

  5. footballer4ever - Jun 17, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    Follow up from previous post:
    “Fehr admitted to a lack of knowledge about a European club champion set-up, but he certainly admitted a willingness to add his name to the discussion”

    Yikes! And he’s the guy looking to manage the NHL’s CBA and lead the way to grow hockey internationally? You are better off handing your beloved car key’s to Stevie Wonder or Jose Feliciano than to have this fool lead your league and crash it down in the name of building up his resume/ego.

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