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Global Series

Murphy, Perlini of Blackhawks visit soccer team ahead of Global Series

Defenseman, forward play video games, shoot at larger net with Hertha Berlin-Sport Club

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

BERLIN, Germany -- Connor Murphy and Brendan Perlini, who are in Berlin with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2019 NHL Global Series, practiced some goodwill and hockey shots with Hertha Berlin-Sport Club, the German soccer team located on the west side of the city, on Saturday.

Murphy, a defenseman, and Perlini, a forward, spent about a half hour playing FIFA 20 and NHL 20 with Elias Nerlich and Leon Aussieker of the BSC eSport Academy near where Hertha practices. Perlini playfully got mad when Murphy was spending more time talking to Nerlich and Aussieker and not focusing on the FIFA game.

"I was more wanting to pick those guys brains and, I don't know if they make a living doing it, but how they're just gamers and how that even works," Murphy said. "[Perlini] was more focused on beating them, which I knew wasn't going to happen."

The two Blackhawks then watched the final 20 minutes of Hertha's practice at their training facility near Olympic Stadium. Hertha, which is currently 15th in the Bundesliga, the top tier of German football, has a match at FC Cologne on Sunday.

"For me, this is a dream come true to come to a training session like this and watch the guys and stuff," said Perlini, who's a big Manchester United fan. "I follow this league a little bit but I'm still kind of learning more about the teams. But I'm grateful for these guys to do this for us. It was fun."

Before Hertha departed for Cologne, midfielder Alexander Esswein joined Murphy and Perlini on a separate field, kicking soccer balls on goal before shooting pucks at the net, which is much larger than the ones the two Blackhawks players are accustomed to. Murphy scored on his hockey shot while Perlini hit the crossbar.

"I think I may actually start looking like a scorer if I could shoot on that net a little more," Murphy said. "I don't know how those goalies do it. You watch practice today and those guys, it seems like they can save most shots in soccer with those big nets. So, it's impressive. They have to be athletic. Obviously, it shows how athletic they are to be able to stop that."

The Blackhawks will get back to hockey when they play Eisbaren Berlin in the 2019 NHL Global Series Challenge at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin on Sunday (1:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, NBCSCH+, NHL.TV). They open their regular season against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Global Series at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic on Oct. 4 (2 p.m. ET; NBCSP, NBCSCH, NHL.TV).

But for one day, it was nice for Perlini and Murphy to add a little soccer to the mix.

"Just knowing the highest-level league they're in, and just kind of having a lot of respect for those athletes and knowing the grind of the seasons and seeing the differences," Murphy said. "But you have a lot of similarities in how they deal with their schedules as professionals. It's pretty cool.

"Just in general in Europe, you see how big and how important and how much pressure they have as players and it's similar to hockey with North America in certain bigger markets like Chicago. So, it's pretty cool to meet some of those guys and be around it a little bit."

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