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    Posts Tagged ‘expansion’

    Tohoku Free Blades is born!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 November 14日 Friday

    Official press conference for the perspective Asia League franchise was announced on 12 November in Koriyama (Fukushima, the team’s headquarters), Hachinohe (Aoyama, the team’s training base), and Sendai (Miyagi, the largetst city in the Tohoku area). The team’s name is the Tohoku Free Blades, incorporating the meaning of free and sharp newcomer in the league that will cut through the old bureaucracy (not sure how realistic this is.)

    The team was established in Xebio as part of its subsidiary, so it’s another industrial team insted of a club team. The Blades already have 12-13 players under contract, and are planning of adding about 10 players who are new graduates this spring from various university teams, and also through some tryout sessions (open to foreigners, though all players bear all costs during the tryout) in December 10-11. It will definitely be a young team, and if it is approved to join the AL in the April meeting, I expect them to be compete with the Bucks and Sharks for the last playoff spot.

    The team intends on drawing talent from the hockey rich Tohoku area eventually, but is mainly compoased of players from hockey hotbed Hokkaido for now. The Blades will host games in Koriyama and Hachinohe, but will also host games in Morioka and Mitsuzawa also in Aomori. 

    This is wonderful news for Japanese and Asian hockey which has been constant decline in the number of teams. Hopefully the Blades will be granted the permission to join the Asia League next season, they certainly seem keen enough.

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    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion, press releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Realistic Asia League expansion team for 2009/10

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 November 10日 Monday

    There have been rumours over the years about adding teams to the Asia League, anything from a Kazakhstani team to a third Korean team to the most recently floated idea by the China (and San Jose) Sharks brass about bringing back a second Chinese team (and my hope that Amur Khavarovsk will send one of its minor league teams to the AL).

    But this time there is a serious financial backer with a seemingly realistic plan. Xebio’s capitalization and annual sales are both over $1 billion, which should be enough to sponsor a few million dollars a year budget of an AL team, but the company’s about 1/10th in capitalization when compared to Seibu, Oji, and Nippon Paper. I’ll translate the short article that appeared in the Hokkaido Shimbun newspaper’s Doshin Sports daily.

    Xebio has established an ice hockey team

    8 November 10:14

    Xebio Co., Ltd., a sporting equipment retailer, announced on 5 November 2008 that it has established a new ice hockey team with the aim of joining the Asia League Ice Hockey next season (Ed: 2009/10). Details will be revealed in upcoming press releases including one in Koriyama city (Ed: Fukushima prefecture).

    The team will call the entire Tohoku (northeast) area of Japan as its home territory, and its training base will be in Hachinohe city, Aomori prefecture (Ed: the Tohoku hockey hotbed). The managing company Tohoku Ice Hockey Club has already been established with former Nikko IceBucks president and current Xebio employee Keisuke Araki as president. About 10 new student-athletes from various universities who will be graduating this upcoming spring have already accepted their offer to join the team.

    Currently, the Asia League features 7 teams of which 4 are based in Japan including the Oji and Nippon Paper teams. According to the league agreement, adding expansion teams requires the consent of the league general assembly where the tentative club will be judged on criteria such as financial stability and its ability to ice a competitive team.

    Original Japanese article after the break:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, 03_Translations (英訳ポートフォリオ), Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, Japan, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Slava Fetisov’s Asian Dreams

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 October 22日 Wednesday

    Straight from the horse’s mouth (from the excellent NY Times Slapshot blog): 

    Tuesday was a special day in the K.H.L. Vyacheslav Fetisov, already the Russian Minister of Sport and as of last week a senator in the upper house of the federal legislature, was elected chairman of the league board of governors. The 50-year-old ex-CSKA, U.S.S.R., Devils and Red Wings star promptlytold the K.H.L. Web site, “We should develop in the direction of the Far East, and make the league not only European but also Asian.” He said there was interest in joining the K.H.L. from businessmen in Japan, South Korea and China.

    Given the 50 percent drop over the last three months in the price of oil — the basis of the Russian economy and of the Gazprom-funded league’s wealth — K.H.L. expansion into other countries seems more and more like a pie-in-the-sky proposition. Falling oil prices and a domestic financial sector hard hit by the current credit crisis have already forced the Russian government to rethink budget and foreign policy initiatives, as the Times’Clifford J. Levy reports. Given such circumstances, does Fetisov really believe that the Continental Hockey League will soon be icing teams in Seoul and Beijing?

    He’s said this before, so I guess Slava’s really got KHL’s eyes on Asia, but chances are slim to nil for many reasons, including the ones in the blog post, but if the KHL is interested in Asia, they’re (or is it just he, as in Fetisov) more likely interested in absorbing the Asia League with existing franchises and fanbase (however small) rather than creating new franchises in the Far East. Then again with the level of play in the Asia League, the teams would get slaughtered in the KHL without heavy reinforcements, and that wouldn’t work out well in terms of fostering home grown talent and interest in the game.

    But this is most likely just old man talking crazy without having read through any reports or thought through the logistics. Asia League games draw anywhere from a few hundred spectators to a couple of thousand fans at best, far cry from attendance numbers KHL is trying to put up to compete with the NHL. Hockey just isn’t a major sport in North East Asia. (But I’d love to see something like Amur Khavarovsk’s 2nd team play in the Asia League again, that’d be neat and good for Asian hockey development.) 

    Here’s a fun old time Fetisov and Larionov photo for kicks.

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »