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Four NHL teams scheduled to start 2009-10 season in Europe @NHLdotcom

NEW YORK - The NHL is going overseas again.

Four teams will kick off the 2009-10 season with games in Europe. Detroit and St. Louis will face one another in Stockholm while Chicago and Florida will meet in Helsinki.

It will be the third straight NHL season that starts in Europe.

"The NHL premiere games are a signature event for the league, our players and our fans," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Playing regular-season games overseas is an excellent way to further engage the passionate NHL fanbase in Europe and encourage the growth of the game of hockey."

Added NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly: "Our members look forward to displaying their skills in front of the knowledgeable and enthusiastic hockey fans in Finland and Sweden."

The games will be played Oct. 2 and 3.

The NHL had originally intended to send six teams to Europe next season. However, planning for the games was delayed by a dispute between the league and NHLPA and forced organizers in Prague to drop out.

The European market is important to the NHL.

Ottawa and Pittsburgh opened the current season in Stockholm while Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers faced one another in Prague.

The 2007-08 season started in London with two games between Anaheim and Los Angeles.

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