The NHL in cooperation with EMA Telstar and IMG in Sweden and Ceska Sportovni, announced today that the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators will open the 2008-09 NHL regular season in Europe. The Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings successfully opened the 2007-08 regular season in front of two sellout crowds at O2 Arena in London. This Fall, NHL Premiere expands to two European locations: Prague, Czech Republic and Stockholm, Sweden.
It is a stated goal of the NHL to grow the game of hockey beyond the borders of North America. In support of that goal, the League is doubling NHL Premiere in size and presenting four regular-season NHL games in Europe. For the first time in NHL history, on Saturday, Oct. 4 and Sunday, Oct. 5, two NHL games will be played in Europe on the same day. The Prague games feature the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning in a home-and-home series at Sazka Arena. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators will play home-and-home games in Stockholm at the Globe Arena.
"It is a delight to bring our game to more of our great international fans. We will start next season with 'double-headers' in two outstanding venues, and we're very excited about that,” said NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman.
The League in 2007 played its first-ever regular-season games in Europe. Previously, the NHL hosted three successful Game One events in Japan in 1997, 1998 and 2000. A complete NHL history overseas is available on media.nhl.com. More information on NHL Premiere will be released at a later date, including ticket information, as well as training camp and preseason schedules.
Before starting the NHL regular season the Rangers will participate in the Victoria Cup – an International Ice Hockey Federation event featuring the winner of the European Champions Cup and an NHL team. Earlier this month, Russian team Metallurg Magnitogorsk beat Sparta Prague 5-2 to earn a berth in the Victoria Cup. The tournament will take place in Berne, Switzerland.
The Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, Sept. 24 will play a preseason game against the Frolunda Indians of Sweden's Elite League in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the Scandinavium Arena. Senators team captain Daniel Alfredsson played three seasons with Frolunda before joining the NHL for his rookie season in 1995-96.