Old-timers’ games are ingrained into the fabric of hockey. Whether it’s rounding up familiar faces for charity games against local police teams or getting the band back together to face old rivals as a warm-up to a major outdoor event, veterans love to get together for a twirl almost as much as fans love the chance to see their old favorites.
At least, that’s how it always seems to work for these one-off exhibitions. But now, one of hockey’s all-time greats is gambling that there’s a demand for something more consistent, and on a much larger scale.
Hall of Famer Pavel Bure is spearheading the premier season of the World Legends Hockey League. The six-team circuit boasts franchises from Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Germany. To participate, players must be at least 45 years old and have appeared in IIHF-sanctioned games representing their country.
The league will kick off in November with a game between Finland and Sweden at Kisapuisto Arena in Lappeenranta, Finland. Playoffs are set for January at the VTB Ice Palace Arena in Moscow.
There are no Canadian or American teams this season, but it’s expected that several players from both nations will be invited to take part in an All-Star kick-off event that will feature Russia against the best of the rest of the world in October.
A chance to see Bure, Nick Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne and Dominik Hasek in action again with national honor on the line? Count us in.