As announced by the NHL, the league is heading back to Europe. As part of the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series, the league will host two regular season games in Stockholm, Sweden next season. The Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators will take the trip across the pond and face off against each other twice on Swedish soil.
With so many Swedish players making their way over to the NHL in recent years, this seems like the perfect idea to grow the game and thank the country producing so much promising talent. Unlike in past seasons, the games will take place during the regular season, not preseason. This will be a testament to the players and league considering the travel and changes to hockey operations that will be involved.
This isn’t the first time the league has traveled to other countries and continents to play games. In 2011 the NHL played games in Germany, Finland, and Sweden. By playing NHL games overseas, the league is able to reach loyal fans that live too far to see a game in person as well as gain some new fans in the process.
Along with the benefit for international fans, the trip has proven to be positive for the teams. With teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks participating in the events in past years, they have gone on to have impressive seasons after starting in another country. Traveling to another country brings a team together. In the beginning of a season when there are new faces in a locker room, bonding and chemistry to vital to a teams success. Being away from home and in a country that isn’t yours and may not speak your language forces a team to rely and count on each other. I believe this is why so many teams were successful following their trips.
With the Avalanche falling out of the elite standings and down to the bottom of the leader-board, this trip and experience is just what they need. A time to regroup, reassess, and bond as a team in order to garner some success in the 2017-18 season. It will be interesting of course to see how the two teams cope with the games being during the regular season and not the pre-season. Hopefully it won’t fatigue them too much.