NHL season ‘to start in Sweden’

The world’s biggest ice hockey league, the NHL, will start its 2008 season in Stockholm, according to reports.

The NHL season will begin with two matches between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators at Stockholm’s Globe Arena, according Eurosport’s Swedish website.

The matches will be played next autumn, the reports say. In addition to the Globe matches, the Ottawa team will mean Swedish team Frölunda at Gothenburg’s Scandinavium.

Globe Arena manager Maj-Britt Gustafsson Wallin did not deny the reports when contacted by Eurosport.

“That is not something I wish to confirm,” was all she would say.

There have long been rumours that the NHL season would start in Sweden. Other European dates are rumoured to be planned, with Prague among the other cities rumoured to be on the schedule.

The Sweden leg of the NHL can expect to draw a strong local crowd: dozens of Swedes currently play in the North American league. Mattias Karlsson and Daniel Alfredsson have both been playing for the Ottowa Senators in the 2007-08 season. The first Swede to play in the NHL was Gustav Forslund, who joined the Senators in 1932.