NHL heads to Europe again in US$2m deal

Europe will host National Hockey League (NHL) season openers for the third consecutive year after the league agreed deals to schedule games in Sweden and Finland. Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings will take on the St Louis Blues in a two-game series in Stockholm, Sweden, on the first weekend in October. The Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers will..........click headline for more

Europe will host National Hockey League (NHL) season openers for the third consecutive year after the league agreed deals to schedule games in Sweden and Finland. Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings will take on the St Louis Blues in a two-game series in Stockholm, Sweden, on the first weekend in October. The Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers will meet in Helsinki on the same datesLength of contract: 1 year | Annualised value: US$2 million | Overall value: US$2m

Europe will host National Hockey League (NHL) season openers for the third consecutive year after the league agreed deals to schedule games in Sweden and Finland. Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings will take on the St Louis Blues in a two-game series in Stockholm, Sweden, on the first weekend in October. The Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers will meet in Helsinki on the same dates.

"Playing regular-season games overseas is an excellent way to further engage the passionate NHL fan base in Europe and encourage the growth of the game of hockey," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement.

The last two season openers in Europe have proved immensely popular. The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings drew two sell-out crowds to the O2 Arena in London in 2007, while the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning drew capacity crowds in Prague last year. The arrangement works on a split revenue basis, with the host stadiums expected to collect around US$500,000 for each of the four games.

"It's something different and really exciting, for sure," said Florida Panthers left wing Ville Peltonen, who was born in Finland. "I think they have been waiting to get a real game."

Thomas Johansson, a spokesman for the Swedish co-organisers, said: "The world's best club team is coming to Sweden and Swedish fans will get the chance to see an NHL opener in Stockholm for the second time."