Players playing Overseas: May the Best Man Win


By Derrick Newman

With the NHL lockout in full swing and no end in sight, many NHL players have opted to play hockey overseas – 122 NHL players to be exact.

And counting. ..

Every day that passes that no deal is done between owners and players, more and more of the world’s best hockey players pack their bags and head to Russia, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, and so on and so on.

For some, like Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin and Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin, it’s a chance to play at home in front of their friends and families.

For others, like San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton, it’s a chance to enjoy some time back in Switzerland, where the hockey is less intense and the ability to travel and see the world is much more viable.

Some people argue that it’s unfair for NHL players to go overseas and take away jobs from the people already playing in the leagues to begin with.

What people tend to forget is that hockey is first and foremost a business. Owners, like in any other company, hire the best possible candidate to do the job with the hopes that they will, in turn, bring in the best possible return on the investment.   

If an oil and gas company is interviewing potential job candidates and all of a sudden a veteran of the field becomes available that might really increase the bottom line, then that company will do what’s best for the company and hire that veteran. They won’t go ahead and hire someone that is just ‘ok’, just because he or she was here first.

This isn’t a game of calling “shotgun.” This is business. May the best man win.

Especially in the hyper competitive market of professional sports, where winning is paramount and in most cases, winning “NOW” is even more crucial to keep fans and money rolling in.

The same argument can be made, but in the reverse order.

You don’t see us bitching and complaining that Russians or Swedes or Fins come over to the NHL and take jobs away from hard working Canadian or American born players, do you?

No. So how can we argue that it’s any different over there?  Fans in these cities and countries are probably thrilled that they get to watch the world’s best players on a regular basis. Or maybe that’s the ignorant sports fan in me thinking that people want to watch the best of the best (a big reason why the NFL is far superior to the CFL, but that’s a whole different story altogether).

As for the players who lose their jobs to the import players coming in, my suggestion to them would be to get better. Just like in any other job, if the company you work for can find someone else to do the job better, than they probably will.  That’s life.  

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