Stockholm, Helsinki, Moscow and other cities have excellent arenas, and holding All-Star festivities in such places wouldn't be a total loss for U.S. and Canadian fans. If the game were played at 8 p.m on Sunday in Europe, it could be televised live in the U.S. and Canada at about the same time it usually airs.
While commissioner Gary Bettman likes the idea of playing the game in Europe, he's concerned about the toll the midseason travel might take on the players. Considering that the league will shut down for about two weeks for the Olympics next season, the NHL could extend the All-Star break to five days in a non-Olympic year. That would be a minor disruption to the season and would give players plenty of time to bounce back from the trip.
Latest TV Innovation
Info You'll Want To Know
After a series of TV gimmicks ranging from the glowing puck (a failure) to miked players (a plus) to netcams (cool), the NHL is about to unveil its niftiest idea yet. During Sunday's All-Star Game in Denver two players from each team—Raymond Bourque and Theo Fleury for North America, Pavel Bure and Nicklas Lidstrom for the World—will wear tiny transmitters that monitor how fast he skates and his exact position on the ice. If Bure gets loose on a breakaway, for instance, viewers watching ABC's or the Canadian Broadcasting Company's telecast could see a real-time graphic showing his acceleration from, say, 15 mph to 20 to 25. If Bourque is on the power play unit, fans might learn following the match that he spent 52% of his ice time manning the point.
The transmitters will be attached to the players' helmets and will send 30 signals per second to receivers set up around the Pepsi Center. "Trakus [the tracking system] enables us to provide information that viewers can connect to," says Adam Acone, the league's vice president of broadcasting and programming. "It lets you track player habits, which adds to the storyline."
While Trakus isn't expected to be used again until the Stanley Cup finals at the earliest, the NHL plans to have the system in place for most of its broadcasts within two years. By monitoring such things as how many miles a player skates each game and a player's average skating speed, Trakus should enhance viewing for fans and might eventually aid coaches as well.
"This could be a valuable tool for finding out more about players," says Avalanche coach Bob Hartley. "You could use the technology for scouting, player development and even to help gauge someone's progress after an injury."
That's a far cry from a glowing puck.
For the latest scores and stats, plus more news and analysis from Michael Farber and Kostya Kennedy, go to cnnsi.com/hockey.