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2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Rangers impressed by Tesla Arena crowd

Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 5:41 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PRAGUE -- The noise behind Martin Biron in the second period Thursday night was unlike anything he's familiar with.

It was an entire section of fans singing songs, chanting and banging on drums. All this despite that their team was in the process of losing a 2-0 game to the New York Rangers.

Biron and the Rangers quickly found out that's just the way they are at Tesla Arena.

Good, bad or indifferent for HC Sparta Prague, the fans are going to make noise.

"It's an incredible experience to be here," Biron said after making 23 saves in his shutout performance. "The fans were great. The dynamics of the game were very unique from what we're used to in North America. The whole second period I had the fan club singing songs over my left shoulder. It was pretty incredible."

Biron shines as Rangers blank HC Sparta Prague

Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 3:33 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PRAGUE -- The slow start wasn't what Rangers coach John Tortorella wanted, but it probably was expected considering his squad was still getting adjusted to the new arena, the slightly larger ice sheet and the totally foreign crowd.

At least goalie Martin Biron had no problem getting used to the elements here at Tesla Arena. If he did, the Rangers could have been in serious trouble in the first of their four European preseason games.

Biron, though, was sharp in the first period and the rest of the Rangers picked up their game in the second. Artem Anisimov and Ruslan Fedotenko scored back-to-back goals in a span of less than three minutes and the Rangers controlled the second half of the game, cruising to a 2-0 victory over HC Sparta Prague.

Lundqvist trying to stay focused for Frolunda game

Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 9:22 AM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PRAGUE -- The reception from the sold-out crowd should be the kind a player never forgets. The emotions that will be running through Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist should be spine-tingling.

The fans in Gothenburg, Sweden, gave hometown hero Daniel Alfredsson a five-minute ovation when he brought the Ottawa Senators in to play the Frolunda Indians at the Scandinavium in 2008. Lundqvist likely will receive a welcome similar to that when he brings the New York Rangers into the same arena to play his old team Friday (1 p.m. ET).

"It's hard not to think about it," Lundqvist said Thursday prior to the Rangers' game here against Czech club HC Sparta Prague. "The last few days it feels like 80 percent of the time I think about going back home and playing there."

Frolunda pioneer Petersson remembers NHL time

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 2:26 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"I had no clue what I was getting into. With my style of play, everybody thought I would be home after half a year. I had seen one NHL game on TV. It was the Rangers and St. Louis, and I saw it on tape. So, I had no clue what I was getting into, but it went the other way. I did really well. It was the best time of my life." -- Jorgen Pettersson

Welcoming the New York Rangers into their city is special for Gothenburgers, especially those who vividly remember Henrik Lundqvist before he became a Broadway star.
For one, though, the mere mention, let alone sight, of the Rangers is a vivid reminder of the best time of his life, of his heyday as a player in the National Hockey League.
"I scored my first goal at Madison Square Garden and I scored my first hat trick against the Rangers," Gothenburg native Jorgen Pettersson, a former star with Frolunda and the St. Louis Blues, told "I always seemed to score when we played them."
Pettersson cherishes the memories of his success against the Rangers and his entire six-year run in the NHL, including five seasons in St. Louis and one split between Hartford and Washington. He was not the first player from Gothenburg in the NHL, nor was he the first Frolunda player in the NHL, but he was the first Gothenburger who played for Frolunda to make it in the NHL.

Sparta chairman thrilled to have Rangers in town

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 1:40 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PRAGUE -- Petr Briza remembers the conversation well. It's the reason the New York Rangers are here preparing to play HC Sparta Prague at Tesla Arena on Thursday.

A year ago, when the Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes were in Prague for the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere, Briza, the Chairman of the Board for HC Sparta Prague, had a lunch he'll never forget.

Well aware of the buzz the Bruins created by playing an exhibition game against the local team in nearby Liberec, Briza asked Ken Yaffe, the NHL Senior Vice President of Events-International, and Martin Urban, the General Secretary of the Czech Ice Hockey Federation, "Why not us next year? Why not Sparta Prague? Why not here?"

He was aware that the NHL would not be using Prague as a host city for the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere, but Briza, who was once considered to be Prague's next mayor, is also smart enough to realize there is great interest in the NHL here. 

Swedish players have had major impact on NHL

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 1:10 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

John Kreiser - Columnist

Sweden's impact on the National Hockey League has come a long way since Ulf Sterner became the first Swede to play in an NHL game 46 years ago.

These days, Swedes are stars at every level of the NHL -- Nicklas Lidstrom is arguably the best defenseman since Bobby Orr, he and Daniel Alfredsson are among the longest-serving team captains in the NHL, and the Sedin twins -- Daniel and henrik -- have taken turns in the past two years winning the Hart and Art Ross trophies (Henrik in 2010, Daniel in '11). Lidstrom became the first European to captain a Stanley Cup winner in 2008, when he was one of seven Swedes on the Detroit Red Wings.

Gaborik a hit among media in Prague

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 12:27 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"It used to be Czechoslovakia and we call each other brothers in a sense and speak pretty much the same language. I'm not surprised that there are a lot of fans and media here. There are some Slovak and some Czech media here that I have dealt with in the past."
-- Marian Gaborik

PRAGUE -- The media contingent surrounding Marian Gaborik on Wednesday at Tesla Arena had to make him feel like he was back at Madison Square Garden during the playoffs.

Gaborik isn't a native of the Czech Republic, but the interest in him here is more than double that of any other Ranger. He is from Trencin, Slovakia, which is closer to Prague than Boston is to New York.

He saw familiar faces in the stands during Wednesday's open practice and has been talking with the media in his native language. It has all helped Gaborik feel comfortable in what is a foreign place to all of his teammates.

Selanne, Ducks visit has Jokerit star overjoyed

Tuesday, 09.27.2011 / 4:50 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

When Teemu Pulkkinen learned his Jokerit team would be hosting the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 4 as part of the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere Series, he knew one of his hockey heroes, Teemu Selanne, would be on hand.

The only question Pulkkinen had would be if Selanne would be wearing his Ducks uniform -- or a suit as the superstar wrestled with thoughts of retirement.

Ducks better prepared for Europe this time

Tuesday, 09.27.2011 / 4:23 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

As much of a fan Randy Carlyle is of NHL teams opening the regular season in Europe, there was no way the Anaheim Ducks coach was going to let what happened in 2007 happen again in 2011.
"If we're going to commit to being a good partner to the NHL, we can't be impacted when we come home," Carlyle told
Four seasons ago, the Ducks began defense of their Stanley Cup by opening the regular season in London against the Los Angeles Kings. Figuring they would have to head back west anyway, the Ducks petitioned the League to play some games along the way.

Koivu thrilled by opportunity to play in Helsinki

Tuesday, 09.27.2011 / 4:17 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

Anaheim's Saku Koivu has watched the growth of NHL Premiere intensely.

Once the National Hockey League decided to play regular-season games abroad five years ago, Koivu has been a fan of the endeavor. When the League decided to go to Finland, Koivu's home country, three years ago for regular-season games, he became an even bigger champion.

"I thought it amazing on their part that they have made it possible in the past couple years to play in Europe," Koivu said. "I never thought growing up that it would even be possible that NHL teams would even come and play in Finland."

But he always believed he would be nothing more than a bystander to the spectacle. Last season, his younger brother, Mikko, got to experience the thrill of playing as an NHLer before Finnish fans when his Minnesota Wild took part in Premiere, playing against the Carolina Hurricanes in Helsinki.
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