NHL Premiere

Cats Going Global

Thursday, 02.19.2009 / 9:01 AM ET / NHL Premiere '09
Florida Panthers
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Cats Going Global
Port of Helsinki (Wikipedia.org)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

SUNRISE – The Florida Panthers are going global.

Helsinki, Finland, to be exact.

The NHL announced Thursday the Panthers will join three other NHL teams overseas next fall and open their 2009-10 regular-seasons with games in Finland and Sweden.

The Panthers, the Cinderella team of the NHL this season having gone from 30th to 10th in the standings, will open the season by playing a home-and home series against the Chicago Blackhawks in Helsinki, Finland on October 2nd and 3rd. On those same days, the Red Wings and Blues will play in Sweden.

“Great country, beautiful city, and very passionate hockey fans,” said Panther coach Peter DeBoer, who attended the 1998 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Helsinki. “I think it’s going to be very exciting.”

Said Panther forward Ville Peltonen, a native of Helsinki and Finland’s star when winning their only World Championship in 1995; “The fans are really excited.”

“They will pack the stadium and there will be a buzz around the city,” Peltonen said. “They’ve been waiting for a game, a regular-season game, to be played where there are points on the line. It will be totally different than just playing an exhibition game. Fans will appreciate what the NHL is doing.”

The game will mark the first time the Panthers play outside North America. The Blackhawks only previous trip to Europe was 17 years ago when they played two preseason games against the Canadiens in London’s Wembley Arena in September of 1992.

“The NHL Premiere games are a signature event for the League, our players and our fans,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “Playing regular-season games overseas is an exceptional way to further engage the passionate NHL fan base in Europe and to grow the game of hockey.”


Stockholm, Helsinki Beckon Wings, Blues, Blackhawks & Panthers

Detroit will open the 2009-10 regular season with a pair of games in Stockholm against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 2 and 3. The Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers will play the same dates at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. ...more
Other Links:
- Official Release
NHL Premiere '09 - City Of Helsinki
- My Hometown: Ville Peltonen
- DeBoer On Premiere '09
- Frolik On Premiere '09
- Campbell On Premiere '09
- McCabe On Premiere '09
- Hartwall Areena Website
- Chicago Blackhawks website
Panther GM Jacques Martin said the Premiere games will be “great for our franchise to have the opportunity to spend some time in Finland and promote the Panthers and NHL hockey.”

Martin and DeBoer said the trip would be beneficial for the players.

“It’s a great opportunity to do some team building, to get away as a team,” DeBoer said. “We have a great opponent to start the season with Chicago. I think it’s exciting being a young coach to have the opportunity. I think it’s a great opportunity for our young players and our veterans. It’s something new, and I think new is always good from an excitement standpoint and getting your team energized.”

Forward Radek Dvorak, a native of the Czech Republic, believes the games will be well received.

“I know when Tampa played the Rangers in Prague (this season), the people back home enjoyed it. They don’t get to see NHL players so it’s something nice for them. It’s a great experience, playing in a different country, different city. It will be fun for the fans, fun for the players and fun for management and people all over the world.”

Forward Gregory Campbell, who’s never played in Europe, was excited about the trip.

“I know there’s a lot of NHL players from Finland, a lot of European players in the league right now,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest over there with our league and I think it’s a good thing for teams to continue to go over there and grow our game and spike interest.”

Finland, host of the 1952 Winter Olympics, is passionate about its hockey. Their national team played its first World Championship in 1939, and earned its first medal (silver) in the Olympic Games in Calgary in 1988.

Finland’s population is approximately 5.3 million. The population of Helsinki is approximately 570,000. Neighboring cities Vantaa and Espoo make up the capital region along with Helsinki, and more than a million people.

The Panthers-Blackhawks game will be played at Hartwall Areena, which opened in 1997 with a concert by the Beach Boys. It later hosted that year the World Championships. The building, which recently hosted Tina Turner and Eagles – two acts who recently played at BankAtlantic Center – has a capacity for hockey of 13,464.

More information on NHL Premiere 2009 will be released at a later date, including ticket information, broadcast information, training camp schedules and preseason schedules.




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

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