Hmmm, how can I most accurately explain this? What would be a good analogy to describe the current state of Euro-NHL relations?
Maybe a chess match, in which one side – the NHL – has three Queens, five Knights, 12 Rooks and an infinite number of pawns. Europe is represented by a pair of rogue, but nicely dressed Bishops who feel they can move any direction they damn well please.
The National League – they’re the white side – have been hungrily swallowing up unlimited European talent since it was discovered Inge Hammerstrom wasn’t female and that she, er he, had a nice backhand.
Europe – playing the evil black role – occasionally jumps a pawn or two or sign a broken-down seen-better-days Queen (sorry, Jaromir) and waves said contract in the face of the “shocked” NHL, something akin to a pirate who steals your spare set of car keys. For the longest time European clubs have had to play the scum-sucking, bottom-feeding sturgeon to the grand and graceful NHL salmon. Hockey players, wanting to play in Europe, have historically been either (a) Gunther returning home at age 37, (b) Gunther never leaving in the first place due to passport issues, a horrendous lack of talent or his unnatural dependence on Gouda, or (c) renegade Canadians taking that “natural” next step from the West Texas County Hockey League and Farm Cooperative to something more in line with their talents. It was a terribly unbalanced situation – like Hulk Hogan arm wrestling a straw. The NHL claimed to want to play fair by offering the European clubs adequate compensation for stealing the hatchlings from the nest while Mama just sat there trying to cure her asthma. “Compensation” usually amounted to a little cash, some previously read issues of National Geographic and a couple of napkins. Needless to say, Europe was a little pissed at being pushed around by these blowhard North American magnates. The Motherland had done all the work in raising Dmitri since he was pulled from the orphanage, yet they had nothing to show for it aside from the occasional pictures he would send home of him, his tennis star girlfriend and their new gold-plated flush (!) toilet. But times, they are a-changing. Europe has recently been trying to change the current state of affairs. No longer will they sit idly by and watch “that other continent” rape and pillage their domestic leagues (side note: Raipinpillage CSV has been perennial champions in the German fifth division since Leider met Hosen). Europe is fighting mad and fighting back (pacifists, my ass). Thanks to the sharp decline in the American dollar, European clubs are now making serious inroads in the world of professional hockey (helped – secretly – by IIHF president and Tom Selleck stunt double Rene Fasel) and reclaiming a lot of lost property. They say, to hell with antiquated transfer agreements! They say, why can’t we keep our Scandinavian, Czech and Russian babies at home (you can have the Danes) and leach off their young backs like you guys have been leaching off of them for so long? They say, watch us fling huge amounts of Euros around and sign some players to contracts that makes the New York Rangers of the world shake in their proverbial (Gucci) boots! We just signed Martin Rucinsky! Hear our mighty roar! Well, it’s a work in progress . . .The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Thursday only on thehockeynews.com. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue. Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org