Fresh off of their first postseason appearance in franchise history, and in the middle of one of their worst years in recent memory, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that they will be opening the 2010-11 NHL season with two games in Sweden. The two games, which will be played on October 8th and 9th, will be in Stockholm against the San Jose Sharks.
While this is the Jackets' first trip over the pond, five other teams will be going with them. Besides the Sharks, the Phoenix Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, and their expansion-brothers the Minnesota Wild will be joining the Jackets in Europe. The Bruins and Coyotes will be playing in Prague, Czech Republic on October 9th and 10th, while the Canes and Wild will play in Helsinki, Finland on October 7th and 8th.
These two games will probably be the first look at Columbus' new permanent head coach after they fired Ken Hitchcock early in February. The trip also coincides perfectly with the suspected release of Columbus' alternate jerseys, celebrating their 10th season in the NHL. Not only does this trip mark the first time that the Jackets are overseas, but it will also be a homecoming for the four current Swedes on the team: Samuel Pahlsson, Kristian Huselius, Anton Stralman, and Fredrik Modin.
The staff and management of the Jackets were thrilled when they heard of this opportunity. President Mike priest said in a statement: "The focus of the hockey world will be on these games, providing great exposure for the franchise and hopefully to the city of Columbus."
Hopefully this announcement will fire up the team and the fans, as they have both been slumping lately.