NHL gearing up for busy preseason

With the kids heading back to school just after Labour Day the NHL season isn’t too far behind as the regular season begins on October 2nd. Training camps get underway in September and the league’s pre-season schedule faces off shortly after. The league will begin its pre-season games on Sunday, September 15th and run until Monday, September 30th. There will be a total of 107 games played over the 16-day span in 43 different locations across North America and in Europe.

There is a three month gap between the last game of the 2018/19 Stanley Cup playoffs and the first pre-season contest of the upcoming 2019/20 campaign. Of course, last season came to an exciting conclusion with the St. Louis Blues winning their first-ever Stanley Cup with a game-seven victory in Boston against the Bruins.

The league will once again travel over the Atlantic Ocean and hold a couple of pre-season contests in Europe. Both the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks will play a game against a European team before facing off for the regular season against each other on October 4th in Prague, Czech Republic. Chicago will be taking on Eisbaren Berlin in their German hometown on September 29th and Philadelphia travels to Laussane, Switzerland for a game against HC Laussane on September 30th. Both games will be televised in North America on the NHL Network.

The NHL’s annual Kraft Hockeyville game will be held in the town of Renous, New Brunswick as the location won the Canadian competition. The winning community earns a pre-season game and this year’s tilt on September 18th will see the Florida Panthers square off against the Montreal Canadiens. The game takes place in Bathurst, New Brunswick and will be broadcast nationally in Canada by TVAS and Sportsnet.

There will also be a Kraft Hockeyville in the USA on September 26th in Calumet, Michigan. This encounter will see Stanley Cup winners the St. Louis Blues doing battle with the Detroit Red Wings. This game will also be aired across America on NBCSN.

While most NHL cities will be hosting pre-season games for their teams there are also numerous games held in neutral sites. These include Abbotsford, British Columbia; Bridgeport, Connecticut; St. John’s, Newfoundland; Salt Lake City; Tulsa, Oklahoma; University Park, Pennsylvania and Victoria, British Columbia.

There won’t be any games held in China this year even though Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals just returned from a five-day trip there as an NHL ambassador. The Capitals’ captain helped run hockey training sessions for children and said he enjoyed the experience immensely. Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner said logistics couldn’t be worked out in time for games in China this year but he hopes the league will return next season after holding two games in China in each of the last two years.

Daly added that the league likely won’t hold regular-season contests in China next year but hopes to in the near future. He also said he’s not sure if NHL players will participate in the 2022  Olympics in Beijing, China and it could depend on whether or not the current collective bargaining agreement between the league and NHL Players’ Association is terminated early in September of 2020 or runs its full course until September, 2022.

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