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NHL Takes Significant Step to Becoming More Europeanized

DETROIT MI - OCTOBER 13:  Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks leaps to avoid a shot as teammate Daniel Sedin #22 looks on as do Pavel Datsyuk #13 and Henrik Zetterberg #40 both of the Detroit Red Wings during their NHL game at Joe Louis Arena October13, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images
Steve ThompsonAnalyst IIIOctober 21, 2011

For NHL hockey fanatics in Scandinavia, things just got a whole lot better. And for the NHL, it just took another step to becoming more European in a way its owners and officials love—with more money.

The NHL announced on its website that it has signed a significant television deal with Modern Times Group yesterday to broadcast every regular season game and every playoff game live on television, broadband and mobile to all of Scandinavia—which includes Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway—for the next five years.

All games will be on pay-television channels with a few also available on MTG free channels.

That is as good as broadcast coverage in Canada and better than the limited exposure the NHL gets in the United States.

The only drawback, of course, is that live games in North America are played in North American time, when most Scandinavians are asleep. But for those stuck on the graveyard shift, those who are night owls and those who love to watch hockey for 24 hours a day, things couldn't be better.

And during early evening hours, Scandinavians will be treated with NHL afternoon games.

Most Scandinavian players currently playing in the NHL are delighted with the news, many remarking that they wished they could have grown up being able to see the European and North American stars of the NHL throughout the 1970s to the 1990s.

Many also expect to get transatlantic calls from relatives and friends immediately after a game is over, analyzing the game they just watched.

The new broadcasting deal is bound to whet the appetite of young Scandinavian boys who dream about becoming NHL stars when they grow up. It can only help grow the game of hockey in Scandinavia.

For the NHL, this may just be a stepping stone. If this hockey deal works, the next logical step would be to finalize a similar television deal in the remaining European countries where hockey is big—the Czech Republic, Slovakia and then Russia. Swiss and German television would probably be interested too.

And for young Scandinavian boys, it may be a stepping stone to their ultimate dream: an NHL with a Scandinavian division that competes every year for the Stanley Cup.

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