Still no European Division for North American Leagues.
National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly envisions the day that the league will have a European Division. But it may take a while to see that happening because the NHL would need at least four teams playing in state-of-the-art hockey arenas and Europe has been slow in building those types of venues. Edmonton Oilers ownership is planning to construct an arena in Frankfurt, Germany. More than four decades ago, the World Hockey Association was planning a European conference. The league folded in 1979 The NHL took four teams. Former National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern had hoped to get an NBA European Division up and running by 2010. The NHL and NBA schedule one off games in Europe but there are no European Division plans.
Boston Celtics’ coach Red Auerbach really began the globalization of basketball in 1964 when he took a group of NBA players to Europe with the goal of beating the Soviet National Team in Moscow. Auerbach was annoyed that the Soviet Union team was beating up on American college kids in various international tournaments and decided to march on Moscow with the help of his friends at the State Department. Auerbach’s goal was to get a Soviet visa for himself, his staff and players and develop the game of basketball in various European countries by playing games and giving clinics on his march through the European continent. Auerbach got as far as Cairo, Egypt. He never did get the Soviet visas and was stopped but along the way throughout Europe and into Cairo, Auerbach provided a foundation that would eventually produce quality European basketball players and open up the international markets. Europe does have its own hockey and basketball leagues. London, Paris, Stockholm and Helsinki get an NBA or NHL game once in a while but it’s just a scrap.