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Canes in Discussions for European Premiere

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
General Manager Jim Rutherford today confirmed a report by Sportsnet stating that the Hurricanes are one of a handful of teams that are seriously considering beginning their season in Europe next season.

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"We are in discussions with the league to be one of the participants in the NHL Premiere next season," said Rutherford. "The process is not complete, but opening our season in Europe is something we are strongly considering."

The report also named Boston, Columbus, Minnesota, Phoenix and San Jose as teams that are in discussions.  Last season, four teams made the trip to Europe, although the league was initially planning to send six.

The NHL Premiere in Europe has taken place in each of the last three years, with teams playing exhibition and regular-season games overseas prior to the rest of the league starting things off in North America. The Canes have shown some interest in the past, but now appear close to making participation in 2010 a reality.

Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues played two games each in Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden. Other previous destinations include London, England, and Prague, Czech Republic.

While sites for 2010 have yet to be confirmed, one has to think that Finland would be an attractive destination for the Hurricanes given that Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen are all under contract for next season.

An official announcement does not seem to be imminent.  Last year’s announcement was made on February 19.

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