The NHL’s stated priority is to play a complete 2020-21 season, even if it starts as late as December and even as the league tries to restart the current season that was put on hold in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12.
Still, there won’t be games in Europe in 2020-21 as the league and the NHL Players’ Association announced the postponement of the 2020 NHL Global Series on Friday.
“The NHLPA and the NHL remain committed to maintaining and growing our international presence,” the organizations said in a joint statement. “We hope that our fans overseas understand the need to postpone the 2020 games, but we look forward to being back with them in 2021.”
The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators were scheduled to open the 2020-21 season in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Bruins were also supposed to conduct part of their training camp in Mannheim, Germany, and play a preseason game against Adler Mannheim while the Predators were to hold some of their training camp in Bern, Switzerland, and face SC Bern in a preseason game.
The Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets were also supposed to play two games in Helsinki, Finland, later in the regular season.
“We are disappointed by the postponement of our trip to Finland but look forward to having the opportunity to play in front of Finland’s passionate hockey fans in the future,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kelalainen, the league’s first European-born GM, said in a statement released by the team.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks opened 2019-20 in Prague – the third consecutive season the NHL revived games in Europe – and the Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres played two games in Stockholm, Sweden, on Nov. 8-9.
The first NHL games in Europe were in 1938 with a postseason tour featuring the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens. There have also been NHL games in Japan, China and Puerto Rico since then.
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