CHICAGO — The Blackhawks are currently in a fight for the last Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with 10 games to go. They’ll face the Flyers tonight at the United Center sitting four points out of that place in the standings currently held by the Arizona Coyotes.
Opening night of next season is far away for Jeremy Colliton, but the location announcement on Thursday was enough to make him think about it a bit.
“It’s fun,” said the Blackhawks’ head coach of the team getting the shot to play their 2019-2020 season opener in Prague next season against the same Flyers they’ll face Thursday. “It’s great for the Hawks to be included in that. Obviously, it’s a different hockey culture over there and it will be fun to play not just an exhibition game. I’m sure everyone will be looking forward to that.”
The coach said he’s sure everyone will be looking forward to the game if and when they get there. There is still work to do this year before the team makes their way overseas for two games next fall. As part of the NHL’s Global Series, the team will first head to Berlin to finish training camp, then face Eisbaren Berlin in an exhibition on Sept. 29 at 1:30 p.m. CST. Then it’s off to Prague for the season opener on Oct.r 4 at O2 Arena at 2 p.m. CST.
It will be the first time the Blackhawks have played in Europe since the opening of the 2009-2010 season, when they faced the Florida Panthers in a pair of games on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 of that season. The Blackhawks would go onto win their first Stanley Cup title since 1961 in June of 2010.
Patrick Kane was on that trip with the team in just his third year in the NHL, and his trip to Prague will be the first in his life.
“It’s nice to go see some new places and go to Europe and represent the NHL and try to help grow the game a little bit,” said Kane. “I know the Blackhawks are a team that’s involved with a lot of these big events so we take pride in that and looking forward to heading over there.”
Of course, there is plenty of business to take care of between now and then. But taking a moment to peek ahead at a big trip early next season isn’t exactly a bad thing.