The Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche are headed to Sweden as the NHL sets to go global in the fall of 2017. Like North America’s National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, top-level North American ice hockey is setting up to take on the world.
On Friday morning, the NHL announced its plans for the Global Series, which will take place on November 10 and 11 in Stockholm, Sweden. The NHL has been to Europe previously, but this will be the league-first venture over the pond in six years.
Both Ottawa and Colorado have Swedish players on their rosters, making the two easy selections for the series. Colorado captain and Swedish forward Gabriel Landeskog will be joined by Ottawa captain and Swedish defenceman Erik Karlsson.
Both teams are expected to offer travel packages to fans looking to make the trip to Sweden.
Run to the NHL Postseason
While the Senators are having a fantastic NHL season and currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division, the Avalanche are statistically the worst team in the league. Colorado’s 43 points are at the bottom of the barrel and 2016-17 will be the sixth time in the last eight seasons the Avalanche have failed to make the NHL’s postseason.
If the playoffs began this week, the Senators will be the second qualifier from the Atlantic Division. Currently with 90 points, the club would take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, whom Ottawa has played well against throughout the year, posting a 3-1-0 record against.
NHL’s History Around the World
The NHL’s foray into Sweden in November is not the first nor will it be the last time the league goes abroad.
In 1938, the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens went on a European tour. The tour saw the teams play nine games across England and France.
The 2011 season was the last time the NHL played regular season games outside the United States and Canada. The tour, known as the NHL Premiere, featured four NHL clubs: the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks.
Prior to the four games, each team participated in the NHL Premiere Challenge, where they took on European ice hockey teams in exhibition games.
Why Play Regular Season Games Abroad?
Plenty of fans will argue that playing NHL regular season games abroad cheapens the hockey season. With the highest priced Ottawa Senators season ticket set at just below $9,000 and Colorado’s most expensive season ticket set at over $13,000, some fans can be feel left out.
Fans may often feel taken advantage of for their unwavering support and with both teams’ supporters shelling out so much, it wouldn’t be unwarranted for some backlash to occur.
The NHL is competing against MLB, NBA and NFL — the top three North American sports leagues — for coverage. Add in the rise of soccer in both Canada and the U.S., and the NHL is seeing itself pushed to the fringes of interest. Going global could be the best way for the game to grow further.
The league will welcome a new franchise in 2017-18 as Las Vegas Golden Knights join the league. The NHL will go headfirst into a new era as it steps up its attempts to compete in a cluttered sports sphere.
By Drew Farmer Special to HockeyClan