Both of the Southern California NHL teams are heading to Europe to start their seasons this year. The last time the Kings and Ducks played in Europe, they faced each other at the O2 Arena in London in 2007. This time, the Kings will face the Rangers in Stockholm and the Sabres in Berlin and the Ducks will face the Sabres in Helsinki and Rangers in Stockholm. The Rangers will be the only team of the four starting in Europe playing their first two games in the same country. The NHL has been starting some teams in Europe every year since 2007 and it’s odd that the Kings and Ducks are both going back in the same year, but at least this year the Kings have the luxury of not having to travel all the way back to start the North American portion of their season. They get to stop on the east coast (for games in New Jersey and Philadelphia) before getting back to the west coast for their home opener.
The Kings often go without a long road trip until February, when the Grammy’s kick everyone else out of Staples Center for a bit to set up. Kings’ coach Terry Murray said he thinks “it’ll be very helpful” with the team bonding. He said, “I think it’s really a timely thing when you add new players like we have this year… The timing of this thing with the changes that we’ve made is very good.”
All the players on both teams seem to be embracing this opportunity to play their sport in Europe. The trip allows some of the players from Europe to have more friends and family at the game than they typically enjoy here in North America. Kopitar said some of his buddies from back home were planning to make the trip to Sweden, though he hasn’t heard the latest. He also said, “We wanna get off to a good start no matter where we play.” That’s always the key at any point in the season and the Kings and Ducks are both looking to win both games in Europe to start their seasons with a bang.
The Kings face higher expectations this year than they have in a long time. None of the players on the team have experienced these high predictions while on the Kings, but they’re ready to meet them and show early on that they’re a real contender this year.
If you’re traveling to Europe with your team, have a great time and be safe.