The Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers will open the 2019-2020 NHL season in the Czech Republic, as the two teams are scheduled to meet in Prague on Oct. 4.

Flyers Blackhawks NHL Prague
The Philadelphia Flyers will play in Europe for the first time when they kick off the 2019-20 NHL season in Prague against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Image:

That announcement came from the NHL on Thursday, with the league also saying that the Buffalo Sabres would be playing two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Stockholm, Sweden in November.

Flyers Play in Europe for First Time

The games are a part of the NHL Global Series, which has seen the league send teams to destinations outside of North America. The Blackhawks, Lightning, and Sabres have all previously played regular season games in Europe, while this will be the first visit for the Flyers.

“This is truly a historic moment for the organization as we take our hockey club overseas for the very first time,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said in a statement. “Throughout our history we have had a number of players from many different countries worldwide call Philadelphia home. Now, we are excited to have this opportunity to represent the Flyers on the international stage.”

Philadelphia currently has three players from the Czech Republic on the roster, including winger Jake Voracek, who said he is excited to play in front of a hometown crowd.

“Obviously it’s something that as a kid, you don’t think it’s possible,” Voracek said in a statement. “But with the way the NHL is going, I think it’s great for us to see all the friends and family, being able to attend an NHL game you can participate in. It’ll be special.”

NHL Teams to Play European Exhibitions

Blackhawks president John McDonough said that participating in the Global Series was a way to give “high exposure” to his franchise. He told the Chicago Tribune that he had been speaking to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about the potential for the franchise to go back to Europe for years now.

“They know that we’re going to commit, they know that we’re going to put all our resources into promoting it and we’re going to represent the NHL well,” said McDonough. “We feel honored, privileged.”

To prepare for the game, both Chicago and Philadelphia will get some ice time in other European locations prior to the season opener. The Flyers will train in Lausanne, Switzerland, then play an exhibition against Lausanne HC on Sept. 30, while the Blackhawks will take on Eisbaeren Berlin at the Mercedes Benz Arena on Sept. 29.

Chicago last played in Europe back in 2009, when they split two games with the Florida Panthers in Helsinki to kick off the season.

While Czech fans will be excited to see NHL action in Prague next season, they may not be getting the very best the league has to offer. Both the Flyers and the Blackhawks are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff race this season, with William Hill giving each franchise 100/1 odds of winning the Stanley Cup this year.

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