Hockey in London?

03.01.07

With soccer on the rise in North America, I guess the NHL feels that it may be time for another sporting cultural exchange attempt with Europe, and has announced that the Ducks and Kings will open next season with two games in London. That’s London England, not London Ontario. (I had to read it twice, too.)

The O2 Arena, Europe’s most state-of-the-art entertainment venue, will stage the historic games on Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30.

“Our commitment to grow the game globally has never been stronger,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “The NHL is extremely proud to be represented in London by two great hockey organizations in the Ducks and Kings as well as to be recording NHL history at such a fantastic facility in the O2.”

Something tells me that the Brits won’t suddenly fall for hockey en masse. Though the sport is not all that different from their beloved football, it suffers from a few massive drawbacks in translation; namely, the hiding of players’ hairdos under helmets, the low tolerance for diving, the game’s general absence of irony in favour of straightforward vulgarity, the utter and complete lack of any good hockey songs (Stompin’ Tom Connors doesn’t count), and the fact that – especially with the new format – more than one goal tends to be scored in a game. Not to mention the whole pesky played-on-ice thing.

On the other hand, there are probably enough expat Canadians living in London to fill the arena. Which begs the question of why they’d send two California teams instead of two Canadian ones. Retribution for David Beckham, perhaps?

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