– The NHL, NHL Players' Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation Sunday announced that the Chicago Blackhawks
will be the North American representative in the second annual Victoria Cup to be played on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009, at the 11,000-seat Hallenstadion in Zurich against the ZSC Lions, champions of the Champions Hockey League.
"The Chicago Blackhawks
are a team with a rich history, a vibrant present and a bright future," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "They are outstanding representatives of our League and an ideal choice for participation in this event, as the Victoria Cup will mark the fourth consecutive decade in which the Blackhawks have faced international competition."
The ZSC Lions Zurich defeated Metallurg Magnitogorsk, 5-0, on Jan. 28, 2009 to win the inaugural Champions Hockey League title, becoming the European club champion and thus earning the right to challenge for the Victoria Cup.
The New York Rangers
won the inaugural Victoria Cup on Oct. 1, 2008, defeating Russia's Metallurg Magnitogorsk, 4-3, in Berne, Switzerland.
The Chicago Blackhawks
established an NHL club record this season by attracting an average of 21,783 to their 40 home dates at United Center (not including the 40,818 who filled Wrigley Field for the Winter Classic vs. Detroit on New Year's Day).
This makes Chicago not only the best drawing hockey club in North America, but also in the world. The Blackhawks were playing to 106 percent capacity which is a 31 percent increase from last season and a 72 percent increase from 06-07.
"We are extremely pleased to accept the NHL's selection of the Chicago Blackhawks
as the challenger for the second edition of the Victoria Cup," IIHF President René Fasel said. "Their fantastic attendance figures prove that the Blackhawks are one of the most recognizable and popular clubs in all of hockey. Chicago has always maintained strong and committed support among European hockey fans."
"Chicago is an Original Six team with tremendous history," NHL Senior Vice-President of NHL International Ken Yaffe said. "We hope the Victoria Cup continues to be an annual event which sees the best of the NHL play the best club team in Europe."
This will be the Blackhawks' first visit to Europe since 1992, but it will mark the first time that Chicago – founded in 1926 – will play against a European club in Europe. The two games the club played in London, England 17 years ago were exhibitions against NHL rival Montreal.
The Blackhawks' tour of Europe will continue after the Victoria Cup when the team travels to Helsinki, Finland to play the Florida Panthers
on Oct. 3 and 4 as part of the NHL’s 2009 Premiere Series.
The upcoming Victoria Cup will also feature an exhibition game at Zurich's Hallenstadion on Sept. 28 as part of the event. The Chicago Blackhawks
will play a Swiss team to be announced soon.