Sources: Pens considered for 2008-09 opener in Prague
By Rob Rossi
Sunday, September 30, 2007
The Penguins could open next season on the road - and across the Atlantic Ocean.
The NHL is planning to start its 2008-09 season with a short series, likely two games, in Prague, Czech Republic. The series likely would involve the Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Penguins had no comment, but multiple league sources said they were being considered for participation in the league's next overseas series. Those sources said that many details still must be worked out before an official announcement, but that the Penguins and Lightning were the league's preferred participants for a regular-season series in Prague.
A Tampa Bay official confirmed in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times that his club has been approached by the league for participation in the series.
"Yes, we have been approached," Lightning president Ron Campbell said, declining specifics according to the report.
The Penguins' participation in the series would mark the second time they stated a season outside North America. They opened 2000-01 with two games against the Nashville Predators in Japan.
There is precedent for the league wanting the Penguins, specifically star Sidney Crosby, involved in a high-profile event.
The Penguins will play the Buffalo Sabres in the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., on New Year's Day -- the first outdoor NHL game to be played in the United States. Over 42,000 tickets were sold for that game, which will be televised on NBC.
A series between the Penguins and Lightning in Prague would feature Crosby, the youngest captain in NHL history, and Tampa star Vincent Lecavalier, who previous held that honor. Crosby is the reigning scoring champion and league MVP, and Lecavalier paced all players with 52 goals last season.
The NHL opened this season with a two-game series between Los Angeles and defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim in London. It marked the fourth time the league has kicked off a regular-season oversees, but the first since the series between the Penguins and Predators in 2000.
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