Canes may open overseas

Staff writerDecember 17, 2009 

— The Carolina Hurricanes could be opening next season on the road - in Finland.

General manager Jim Rutherford said Wednesday that the Hurricanes could be one of the teams selected to participate in the 2010 NHL Premiere games.

"We've been in discussions for a few weeks," Rutherford said. "There has been no confirmation of it, but there's a good chance we will be in it. The discussions have been good, and everything is moving in the right direction."

Rutherford attended the NHL governors meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in California.

Having the Hurricanes involved - probably playing exhibition and regular-season games on the trip - makes sense. Carolina has three Finns in its lineup: Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen. All are expected to play for Finland's Olympic team in the Vancouver Winter Games.

"That would be really exciting," Ruutu said Wed nesday. "Obviously, to play in front of your family and best friends would be exciting. ... And if you use it the right way, it can help build good team chemistry on such a trip, being together for a week or two."

Rutherford said travel expenses are covered by the league. He said a final decision on the teams competing should come "in the fairly near future." Last year's announcement was made in mid-February.

The other teams being considered appear to be the Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild. It's possible the NHL could send six teams to the Premiere games next season.

The Florida Panthers participated in this year's Premiere games in Finland, splitting two games with the Chicago Blackhawks in Helsinki. The Panthers also played two exhibitions in Finland.

The Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues played two games in Stockholm, Sweden, to open the season.

Compuware held the title sponsorship for the 2009 NHL Premiere games. Peter Karmanos Jr., the Hurricanes' owner, is the founder and chairman of the Detroit software company.

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