North America’s 6th or 7th most popular professional sports league held a preseason conference call yesterday, with a succession of HNIC, Versus, NBC and CBC talking heads fielding questions from the print and online media. Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshysnki was a participant, and recounts Don Cherry’s thoughts on the notion of the NHL expanding into Europe :
“I hope they do expand to Europe because then they’ll all stay over there,” Cherry said. That’d be really great, far as I’m concerned. As long as the CBC doesn’t go over there and broadcast. We’ll send Mike [Milbury] over there.”
I asked Cherry if NHL European expansion was going to happen, and what city he’d like to see the NHL expand to in Europe. Beginning with a chuckle, he said (and please, read this in your best Cherry voice):
“I really don’t know, and I really don’t care. I’d like to be up on this, but the only thing I can think of is that they don’t draw very well over there. When they have the Juniors over there, they don’t draw. In Germany I guess they draw pretty good. But they don’t charge anything for the prices, and how are they going to charge the tickets over there? Maybe in Russia with all that oil and all that money. But in Finland, you think they’re going to pay $150 for a ticket? And they’re going to be paying guys $9 million? That’s the only thing that I can see.
“But I was just kiddin’ before. Maybe one or two teams would be different to go over there I guess. But I can’t see them drawing and I can’t see them charging the ticket prices. That’s how I feel about it.”
I am presuming the former coach-turned-fashion plate is aware the New York Islanders averaged a mere 13,640 tickets sold per game last season, a number that drops a bit lower if you subtract the sold out house for Stan Fischler Human Sacrifice Night.