PRAGUE – If you’re a fan of the franchise, then make sure you pay attention to the Blackhawks this week.
Playing games outside of North American is a rarity for one of the Original Six franchises in the National Hockey League. So their trip this week to Prague for an exhibition game in Berlin then the season opener against the Flyers in Prague is something quite different.
In fact, it’s only the third time the team has traveled outside of the United States and Canada to play a game, whether exhibition or regular season.
The Blackhawks didn’t play a game overseas until 1992 and that came in London on September 12th and 13th of that year. As the defending Campbell Conference champions, Mike Keenan’s team split a pair of games against the Canadiens a few weeks before the start of the season.
The next trip overseas was the Blackhawks previous visit before heading to Prague. That was in September and October of 2009, when they played a total of three games, including two that counted in the standings.
Joel Quenneville’s second Blackhawks’ team began with an exhibition game against HC Davos in Zurich, Switzerland before traveling to Helsinki, Finland to open their season against the Florida Panthers.
After losing the season opener 4-3 in the shootout, the Blackhawks rallied for a 4-0 win in the second game on October 3rd. It would be the first of 52 wins that season as the team went on to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 49 years the following June.
Perhaps the Blackhawks can repeat that success with a strong start to the season on Friday against the Flyers, the team they’d beat in that Stanley Cup Final that season. At the very least, appreciate something rare in the proud history of Blackhawks hockey.