At the same time the Colorado Avalanche were practicing at Family Sports Center on Saturday morning, the 2008-09 National Hockey League season was officially kicking off overseas.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers laced up the skates today in the Bridgestone NHL Premiere Prague, followed by the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins doing battle in Stockholm.
Watching those teams play hockey where the goals, saves and points actually matter has the Avalanche keyed up to kick off the regular season.
“This definitely gets us excited to get things going,” said Wojtek Wolski. “It was a long summer and it’s been a long preseason. Everyone’s been working so hard and we’re all really excited for the season. The guys are ready and I think we’re going to have a great team this year.”
The NHL Premiere Series helps to create a bit of a buzz for the upcoming season while also expanding the league’s ever-intensifying fan base.
“It’s a good concept. Hockey’s so big in Europe and you never know what the future holds as far as expanding the league and putting some teams overseas,” said Paul Stastny
. “We’ll see how it works out in the long term, but in the short term playing these games just helps to grow the popularity of the game even more.”
The Avalanche opens its regular season schedule on Thursday, Oct. 9, when the club hosts the Boston Bruins at Pepsi Center. But first, Colorado needs to close out its preseason slate by taking on the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday at the United Center (5:00 p.m. MT).
“It’s hard to believe those guys are playing regular season games already, but we still need to focus on ourselves,” said Wolski. “We want to make sure we have a great game tomorrow and have a couple of good practices before Thursday’s game.”Avalanche Reduces Roster
The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced Saturday that it has reduced its preseason roster to 27 players with the reassignment of forward Chris Stewart to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.
The preseason roster now contains 17 forwards, eight defenseman and two goaltenders, and will need to be whittled down to 23 players before the start of the regular season.