Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Bettman, speaking before the Florida Panthers and the Winnipeg Jets play for the first of their two regular-season games in Finland on Thursday, said the league is planning to keep a presence in Europe in the future.

By Associated Press
November 01, 2018

HELSINKI — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the NHL is planning to play a season-opening game in Prague and another two games in Stockholm next season.

Bettman, speaking before the Florida Panthers and the Winnipeg Jets play for the first of their two regular-season games in Finland on Thursday, said the league is planning to keep a presence in Europe in the future.

The commissioner said the 23 regular-season games played in Europe since 2007 have been a ''fantastic success.'' As an example, he said the tickets for the two games between the Panthers and Jets at the 13,500-seat Hartwall Arena sold out in less than five minutes.

Bettman did not specify the dates or teams for the games, which will take place in November 2019, saying plans have yet to be finalized.

The second game between the Panthers and the Jets is scheduled for Friday.

In October, the New Jersey Devils defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The future for the NHL's presence at the next Winter Olympics, in Beijing in 2022, is not bright after Bettman said there's an overwhelming view in the NHL that the Olympics are ''terribly disruptive'' to the season and that the previous NHL participation proved ''difficult and less than satisfactory.''

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