The next season of the National Hockey League will start with six games played in three European cities – Stockholm, Helsinki and Prague, the organisers of the Prague games said on Tuesday.
The Carolina Hurricanes and the Minnesota Wild will clash in Helsinki on October 7th and 8th, and the Columbus Blue Jackets and the San Jose Sharks will meet in Stockholm on October 8th and 9th.
The Boston Bruins will then take on the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague on October 9th and 10th, Miroslav Cernosek, the owner of the Czech organiser company Ceska sportovni, told reporters.
All three cities have already hosted the NHL opening games, just like London, where the tradition of opening the season in Europe started in 2007.
“We are extremely pleased that six teams – more than ever – will open their season in Europe,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
“With these games, nearly half of our clubs will have participated (in overseas openers), a testament to how excited our teams are to be playing before our outstanding fans in Europe.”
The teams in question include players from the countries they will visit.
The Blue Jackets’ current roster includes four players from Sweden: forwards Fredrik Modin, Samuel Påhlsson and Kristian Huselius and defenseman Anton Strålman.
San Jose has Swedish defenseman Douglas Murray and recently acquired Niclas Wallin.
Modin, Påhlsson and Murray will represent the defending Olympic champions at the upcoming Vancouver Games.
“Having the chance to play these games is going to be special, especially for me and the other Swedish players,” Påhlsson said.
“It is really going to be great for fans in Sweden to be able to watch the NHL in person.”