PRAGUE, Czech Republic, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The National Hockey League will embark on its 2008-09 season Saturday and to do so it has traveled a long way from home.
What the league refers to as the NHL Premier will take place in Prague, Czech Republic, and Stockholm, Sweden, touching off a campaign that will include a New Year's Day game played in Chicago's Wrigley Field between the Blackhawks and defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning will meet Saturday in Prague. Ottawa and Pittsburgh, which lost to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Finals, will play in Stockholm.
Those teams will face each other again Sunday and the North American phase of the regular season will begin next Thursday. One of the opening games Thursday will find Detroit hoisting its championship banner and playing host to Toronto.
Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby said he was anxious to open a new year.
"Being so close and not winning last season is still hard to digest," Crosby said. "The memory of losing is not something that just goes away.
"I thought I was motivated before. It's definitely more now."