For the second consecutive year, the National Hockey League will open its regular season with a game in the Czech Republic, the NHL has confirmed over the weekend.
The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators will be headed to Prague’s O2 Arena next October to headline the NHL’s Global Series slate, a series of NHL games to take place in European locations during the 2020-21 NHL season.
Prior to the Prague opener, the Bruins will take on Adler Mannheim in Germany while the Predators will play SC Bern in Switzerland during exhibition matches.
Later during the regular season, the Colorado Avalanche will match up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Helsinki, Finland.
This isn’t the first time NHL teams have opened their season in the Czech Republic; last month, the Philadelphia Flyers met the Chicago Blackhawks at Prague’s O2 Arena.
While the Predators will be making their European debut, the Bruins have played previously in the Czech Republic, having kicked off their 2010-11 season in Prague. That season ended pretty well for the Bruins, who would go on to win the Stanley Cup later in 2011.
For the Bruins, the trip to the Czech Republic holds a special meaning: two of the team’s top stars are Czech.
Center David Krejčí, the Bruins current alternate captain, was a member of that 2011 Stanley Cup-winning Bruins team; right wing David Pastrňák was drafted by Boston in 2014. Pastrňák has since gone on to win the Golden Hockey Stick, given to the best Czech hockey player, in each of the past three years.
“Opening the season in Prague and Northern Ireland back in 2010 was a very special experience to share with my family, friends and teammates,” said Krejčí in a press release.
“It was the start of a year I’ll always remember. Growing up in Czech, it was my dream to play in the NHL so to be able to play in more NHL games in Europe means a lot to me personally. I think it’s great the League continues to grow the game and bring hockey to different countries all over the world.”
“I was very excited to learn that the Boston Bruins would be heading back to my home country to play in the 2020 NHL Global Series in Prague,” added Pastrňák.
“I remember driving to O2 Arena as a kid to go see the Bruins play the Coyotes back in 2010 for the NHL Premiere games. The passionate fans and atmosphere were something I’ll never forget – I can’t wait to feel that energy again from the ice in Prague and Mannheim.”
Pastrňák and Krejčí are currently two of the biggest Czech hockey stars in the NHL, as well as members of the Czech National Hockey Team (when available), making the Bruins Prague opener a fitting return. At O2 Arena next autumn, expect local fans to be rooting for Boston.
The exact date of the 2020 NHL opener in Prague has yet to be revealed.