Change international hockey schedule: NHL union boss
Paul Kelly wants world, Olympic, World Cup tourneys played in continuing sequence
Having a world hockey championship tournament in the same year as the Winter Olympics makes no sense, said the head of the NHL Players' Association as he called for more order to the international hockey schedule.
In Bern, Switzerland, for the world championship, Paul Kelly suggested that the worlds, the Olympics and the World Cup of Hockey be scheduled so no two of them take place in a single calendar year.
"I think for the benefit of hockey worldwide, that we should come up with a reasonable schedule of international events," Kelly said.
"In my view, the way to do that is to hold the world championship every two years and in the intervening years to hold the Olympics as well as the World Cup so that you would hold them in a continuing sequence."
Next year, the Olympic Winter Games are in February in Vancouver and three months later the world championship is scheduled for Germany.
Then in 2011, plans are in the making for a World Cup that would come three months after the world tournament in Slovakia.
"I think that is part of the over-saturation. People will get confused. What are you holding and why are you holding it now?'' Kelly said.
Swedish officials say the idea is worth considering.
"It is not a bad idea but you can take it to another level," said Christer Englund, president of the Swedish Ice Hockey Association. "They should close all the leagues in February and in that case we would have the best players every year. This is about making the value of the product better. I hope we see the possibilities of this suggestion and not the problems."
The International Ice Hockey Federation's Swiss president Rene Fasel agreed that the current regime doesn't always work.
"We have to take care for the players for sure," Fasel said. "I think the system like we have now, we don't always have the same players playing, especially coming from the NHL, depending who is in the playoffs or not."
This isn't the first time that Kelly has suggested the international calendar needs to be revamped.
Kelly would like to see the World Cup held every fourth February rather than every fourth September, saying promoting hockey is better during the winter than at the peak of baseball's pennant races and the start of the U.S. football season.
The world tournament is Europe's version of the Stanley Cup and is the International Ice Hockey Federation's main source of revenue.
But money talks and Fasel said IIHF members would want to see how much money would come their way in a revamped schedule.
"If we have the same amount of money: that would be the first question from our members," he said.
The international calendar is on the agenda at the IIHF Congress, where delegates from 66 countries will hear updates on the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and negotiations with the NHL and NHLPA over a transfer fee agreement.
Transfer fee talks set for this weekend were postponed when NHL executive vice-president Bill Daly stayed in North America to deal with issues surrounding the bankruptcy of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Fasel, meanwhile, had a shopping list of things he wanted to talk to both Kelly and Daly about, including the transfer agreement, NHL participation in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, another World Cup and rising insurance for players at the world championship.
"We have challenges there and we have to discuss and maybe solve these problems before we go and change the model," Fasel said.