Lightning To Open 2008-09 Regular Season In Prague
SENATORS & PENGUINS IN STOCKHOLM
TAMPA BAY – The National Hockey League (NHL), in cooperation with EMA Telstar and Ceska Sportovni, announced today that the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers will open the 2008-09 NHL regular season with a two-game series in Prague, Czech Republic. The “NHL Premiere Series” will also feature the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators opening the season simultaneously with a two-game series in Stockholm, Sweden.
The games on Saturday, Oct. 4 and Sunday, Oct. 5 will mark the first time in NHL history that two games will be played in Europe on the same day. In Prague, the Lightning and Rangers will play a home-and-home series at Sazka Arena. The Penguins and Senators will play home-and-home games in Stockholm at the Globe Arena. 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.
“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,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Certainly we are familiar with Globe Arena - we were there for World Cup in 1996 and 2004, the Vancouver Canucks played there in 2000, the Colorado Avalanche was there in 2001, the Toronto Maple Leafs visited in 2003. Sazka Arena opened in 2004, it has a capacity of 18,000 for hockey, and it is just a tremendous place at which to enjoy the sport."
"All of us at the Lightning were pleased and proud when approached by the league office to participate in the NHL Premiere Series," said Lightning President and Alternate Governor Ron Campbell. "We are honored to have this opportunity and it is our goal to represent the NHL and Tampa Bay at the highest possible level on the global stage, but at the same time, our focus will be on securing our first two wins of the 2008-09 season."
"We are very excited and look forward to what should be a fantastic experience for our entire organization," said Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster. "Realizing the opportunity transcends any concerns we might have and after doing extensive research with fellow GMs who have made the trip to Europe previously, I wish to thank them for the advice and direction provided in helping us structure the best possible environment for our players and the European fans."
The Lightning expect to have information on a potential fan trip that can be purchased through the club and its travel partners within the next few weeks.
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 exhibition schedules.
This will be the second European trip for the Lightning. In 1998, the team traveled to Austria for a pair of preseason games. After training for several days in Feldkirch, Austria, the Lightning defeated reigning European champions VEU Feldkirch, 4-1. Three days later the Lightning defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 3-1, at Innsbruck, Austria.