Hockey fans are anxiously counting down the start to the 2019/20 NHL season and they don’t have long to go. Training camps will be in full stride this weekend with the first preseason contests facing off on Sept. 15th. And while fans in North America will be getting the lion’s share of regular-season games as usual, the NHL will once again be taking its show on the road as the league’s Global Series will be visiting Sweden and the Czech Republic for regular-season games
The Tampa Bay Lightning will be taking on the Buffalo Sabres in Stockholm, Sweden and European fans can also purchase tickets to watch the squads practice individually on Thursday, November 7th at the Ericcson Globe arena.
The Sabres and Lightning are then scheduled to do battle with games on Friday November 8th and Saturday, November 9th with all tickets reportedly being sold out already. However, a few hospitality and VIP packages could still be available.
European fans don’t have to wait until November to catch some gritty NHL action though as the season will officially kick off for a couple of teams in the Czech Republic when the Chicago Blackhawks square off against the Philadelphia Flyers. The clubs will go at each other at the O2 Arena in Prague on Friday, October 4th after wrapping up training camp in Europe.
Both the Blackhawks and Flyers will also play a preseason game against European opponents before lining up for their season opener. Chicago will head to Germany where they will meet Eisbaren Berlin at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin on Sunday, September 29th and Philadelphia will take on Lausanne HC at the Vaudoise Arena in Lausanne, Switzerland on Monday, September 30th. Fans in North America can catch the action live on the NHL Network.
This will be the eighth time overall the NHL has traveled overseas to play regular-season contests on ma European soil and the third consecutive season. The league started to journey over the Atlantic as way to reward them and showcase its talent, which makes perfect sense since so many NHL stars hail from that continent. European fans have also been enjoying live NHL encounters for several years via television and internet-streaming broadcasts and the league’s official website is available in numerous languages.
The NHL has played in several European locations with this year’s game in Prague being the fifth in the Czech Republic and the 12th and 13th in Sweden, with a dozen of them being held in Stockholm.
The 2019/20 campaign officially faces off on Tuesday October 2nd with the preseason beginning on
Sunday, September 15th while running for two weeks until Monday, September 30th. During those 16 days, fans will be able to check out 105 preseason clashes in a total of 41 North American locations as well as the two in Europe.
There are some special preseason matches coming up as the league’s yearly Kraft Hockeyville showcase will be taking place on September 18th in Canada with the game being held in Bathurst, New Brunswick. This contest will feature the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers and broadcast live across Canada.
The American version of the Kraft Hockeyville competition takes place in Calumet, Michigan on September 26h between the Detroit Red Wings and reigning Stanley Cup champions the St. Louis Blues and will also be broadcast nationally.
Most NHL clubs will be playing preseason games in their own rinks but there will be plenty of games taking place in neutral locations across North America. These include: Victoria, British Columbia; Abbotsford, British Columbia; St John’s Newfoundland; Bridgeport, Connecticut; University Park, Pennsylvania; Salt Lake City, Utah and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
There’s no doubt the NHL wanted to return to China for a few preseason games but that won’t be happening this year due to logistical reasons. The league did operate some clinics for youngsters in China during the summer as a way of promoting their brand with Washing Capitals’ captain and star player Alexander Ovechkin acting as the ambassador,
The league held a pair of preseason contests in China in 2017 and 2018 and hopes to stage a couple more next year. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he hopes the league will eventually play regular-season games in China in the near future but it won’t be in 2020. But while Daly is optimistic about holding games over there he admitted that he doesn’t know if NHL players will be competing in the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022.
Either way, the NHL regular season opens for business for the 102nd time shortly and will wind up on April 4th of next year. Between now and then the 31 franchises will each play and 82-game schedule. Of course, the league will expand to 32 teams for the 2021/22 campaign when Seattle, Washington joins the fun.
The league has scheduled another three outdoor games for the upcoming season. The Heritage Classic takes place in Regina, Saskatchewan on October 26th at the Mosaic Stadium with the Calgary Flames taking on the Winnipeg Jets. The Winter Classic is next on New Year’s Day at when the Dallas Stars host the Nashville Predators at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Then on February 15th the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings will tangle in Colorado Springs at Falcon Stadium.
As usual, the annual NHL All-Star Game will be played with this season’s edition taking place at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri with the St. Louis Blues hosting the activities for the weekend. The game itself will be played on Sunday, January 26th.