In a disappointing move yesterday, the European Ice Hockey Federation has banned Canadian born players from playing in the European elite leagues for the 2011-12 season unless they have dual citizenship with the country they’re playing in.
This decision has major implications for the hundreds of Canadian born players playing hockey professionally throughout Europe. These players are scrambling to find homes for the 2011-12 season. The Asia League of Hockey that has housed a handful of Canadians in recent years in expected to see a major influx of talent.
The reason given for the decision is that Europe is sick of sending their best players to play in North America in exchange for North America’s ‘seconds’. One major official was reported as saying, “If they’d just send a couple of star players once in awhile this wouldn’t happen. Maybe a Rick Nash, Corey Perry or even that Ovechkin guy.”
Early word from Slovenia is that they won’t go with the ruling. Plans are already in the works for a ‘Super League’ in the small country situated just east of Italy. If this comes to fruition, the Slovenia based teams of Jesenice and Ljubljana would pull out of neighboring Austria’s Erste Bank Eishockey Liga. If that were to happen, it is believed that the two other non-Austrian teams in Croatia and Hungary would follow suit and join in the ‘Super League’.
This decision can only be seen as a devestating development for hockey in general in Europe. Certain leagues that rely heavily on Canadian players to put fans in the seats are saying that this will be the end of profitable hockey.
Stay tuned for more news and enjoy this April 1.