Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wild to start 2010-11 season in Finland

Two games vs. Carolina Hurricanes to start NHL season, game vs. Finnish club highlight overseas start in October

By Wild Road Tripper

The National Hockey League announced Tuesday afternoon that the Minnesota Wild will be one of six teams who will begin the 2010-11 season in Europe, playing back-to-back games vs. the Carolina Hurricanes on October 7 & 8, Thursday and Friday, in Helsinki, Finland, at Hartwell Arena, the nation's largest hockey facility. In addition, the Wild will play against TPS Turku, the Finnish Sm-liiga team partially owned by Wild team captain Mikko Koivu, in his hometown.

Other teams and locations announced Tuesday for the 'NHL Premiere' games will include the San Jose Sharks vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets in Stockholm, Sweden, and the Boston Bruins vs. the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague, Czech Republic. There will be two games per day for two of the four days of NHL Premiere. All NHL Premiere games will be carried on the NHL Network; no local TV arrangements were announced Tuesday.

The Wild and Hurricanes currently roster three Finns each: Koivu, Helsinki-native Niklas Backstrom, and Antti Miettinen make up the Finnish Wild contingent, while Jussi Jokinen, Joni Pitkanen and Tuomo Ruutu make up the 'Canes roster of Finns. The trip will shove the pre-season earlier into September as they will play primarily the other five teams going overseas (so they all can stay on the same schedule) before crossing the Swamp -- er, North Atlantic -- to the Land of the REAL Reindeer (hey, Lapland is only a few hours' train ride away!)

And, of course, Finnish saunas...more on this story as it develops.

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