Could the long-awaited showdown between the NHL and the KHL finally take place in conjunction with, of all things, the 2015 World's Fair?
A report on the Russian TASS website suggests that plans are underway in Milan, Italy, to stage a four-team tournament sometime during the expo, which is scheduled to run from May 1 to Oct. 31, 2015.
“Milan has it all ... the audience, a great stadium [Mediolanum Forum, the site of the 1994 World Championships],” said Ico Migliore, president of Milano Rossoblu, one of the top teams in Italy's Serie A. “We are ready to carry out high-level matches.”
Migliore said he is working with the president of the Italian national hockey federation to convince the two leagues to bring a pair of teams to Milan.
That came as news to NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.
“To my knowledge, there has been no contact made with the NHL regarding such a tournament,” he told SI.com.
That doesn't mean it won't happen—the NHL, after all, likes to make major announcements on its own terms. But the timing makes it unlikely given that the league is working on its own major international event, the revived World Cup of Hockey. That tournament is expected to be held in 2016.
It's more probable that Migliore is playing this angle to raise the profile of Italian hockey in general, and of his own club in particular. The KHL has considered Milan as a possible expansion site for several years, but there are concerns about Rossoblu's substandard talent and lack of sponsorship.
“I do not know when we can get in the KHL,” Migliore said. “But the main thing that we need is to generate the necessary budget. Once we do that, then we can talk about the transition to the KHL.”