The NHL just wrapped up its two-day media event held in Chicago earlier this week. As part of the event, league deputy commissioner Bill Daly met with media to discuss a wide range of topics, including the possibility of NHL exhibition games returning to Russia.
“This is one of the topics that is open for discussion. A couple of years ago, before the pandemic, we considered the possibility of bringing the Washington Capitals to Russia. I think there will be a chance to return to this question soon,” said Daly.
Daly pointed out that the NHL has had a good working relationship with Russian hockey, and that the groundwork is in place for the NHL returning to Russia.
“We have a long-term working relationship with the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (FHR). Many people do not even realize that we have a valid agreement on mutual respect for contracts. They do not sign players who have contracts in the NHL, we do not sign those who play under contracts in the KHL. We have a great working relationship.”
Daly said there are other pieces that will be in place to get a deal done that would bring the NHL to Russia.
“We expect that this month IIHF President Rene Fasel, with whom we have also cooperated with a lot at the international level, will resign, after which a new president will be elected. Fasel will become a consultant to the FHR and the KHL. This, I think, will only help our contacts with the Russian side. In this I am a great optimist.”
However, Daly said there are details that still need to be worked out.
“Will it be matches against KHL teams or something else, we have not decided yet. We had the experience of having Carolina face one of the KHL teams, which the Hurricanes saw as a preseason game and played mostly younger players, and their opponent took it much more seriously. So we have to think about the format, but this is really the idea that interests us.”
Daly was also asked about Alex Ovechkin and his chase for Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals record.
‘This is an incredible achievement. The consistency with which Ovechkin spends season after season is truly unique. Gretzky’s records speak for itself, but I must be admit that it was set in a different, more productive era. Ovi is a true hockey ambassador who has found himself in North America and has a great deal of NHL culture. We will all be rooting for Alex to break the record and believe that he can do it. The five-year contract that He has signed shows that the Capitals feel the same way.”
By Jon Sorensen