Thursday, October 7, 2010

2000-01 Nashville Predators Tomas Vokoun Jersey

With the 2010-11 NHL season kicking off today in Finland when the Carolina Hurricanes meet the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki, we take a look back at the opening game of the 2000-01 season when the Nashville Predators played against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Tokyo, Japan.

This would be the third and final time that the NHL would open it's season in Japan. 1997 saw the Vancouver Canucks split a pair of games against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the first ever regular season games to count in the standing played outside of North America, while 1998 saw the Calgary Flames take on the San Jose Sharks.

On this day in 2000, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators took to the ice in front of 13,849 fans at the Saitama Super Arena.

Penguins Predators Tokyo photo penguins-predatorsTOKYO2000.jpg
The fans were ready for some NHL action

Jan Hrdina got Pittsburgh's lone goal while Cliff Ronning, Vitali Yachmenev and Scott Walker scored for Nashville with Yachmenev getting the second goal and credit for the game winner.

 photo JagrPenguinsTokyo20003.jpg
Jaromir Jagr on the attack for Pittsburgh

Predators goaltender Mike Dunham got the win for Nashville by stopping 25 of the 26 Penguins shots. Jean-Sebastian Aubin took the loss in the nets for Pittsburgh even though he made 30 saves on 32 shots, with the third Nashville goal into an empty net.

The next day, when the Penguins turned the tables and won by the same 3-1 score.

Penguins Predators 10/8/00 photo JagrPenguinsTokyo2000.jpg
Wearing black, the Penguins were the "road" team for the second game

The NHL would continue to play some exhibition games in Europe following the final game in Japan in 2000. The Colorado Avalanche played a game in Sweden against Brynas in 2001 and the Toronto Maple Leafs went to both Sweden and Finland in 2003 for games against Djurgardens IF, Farjestads BK and Jokerit of Helsinki.

Those games would not count in the standings until the current NHL Premiere series began when the Anaheim Ducks would play the Los Angeles Kings in London, England's 02 Arena to kick off the 2007-08 season with a pair of games.

In 2008-09 with the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins played in Stockholm, Sweden while the New York Rangers squared off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Prauge, Czech Republic.

The NHL Premiere series returned to Europe in 2009-10 as the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers faced off in Helsinki and the Detroit Red Wings took on the St. Louis Blues in Stockholm.

Of note, both the Penguins in 2009 and the Blackhawks in 2010 would go on to win that season's Stanley Cup after starting their seasons in Europe.

This year the schedule of games has expanded, with six clubs making the trip over, beginning with today's game between the Wild and Hurricanes in Helsinki at 12 noon on TSN in Canada and Versus in the United States. On Friday, October 9th the Wild and Hurricanes will play their second of two games at noon prior to the Columbus Blue Jackets meeting the San Jose Sharks in Stockholm at 3 PM, with both games again on TSN and Versus. The Blue Jackets and Sharks meet again on the 9th at 3 PM (on the CBC in Canada and the NHL Network in the US) following the Phoenix Coyotes first game against the Boston Bruins in Prague on TSN and Versus. Boston and Phoenix wrap up the European schedule with a second game in Prague on Sunday, October 10th at 10 AM on the NHL Network in both Canada and the US. (all times Eastern).

Aside from the games played in London, all the remaining regular season games played overseas since the first ones in 1997 have featured a special patch worn on the participating teams jerseys.

NHL Premiere logos
The 2008, 2009 (top row) and 2010 NHL Premiere patches

Today's featured jersey is a 2000-01 Nashville Predators Tomas Vokoun jersey as worn in Tokyo, Japan for the Game ONe Japan series in 2000.

The Predators took to the ice wearing this style jersey for their inaugural 1998-99 season and it remained unchanged until the 2005-06 season when the shoulder patches were changed to a saber-toothed tiger skull logo. It would continue to be used with the new secondary logos through the 2006-07 season after which the team got new jerseys upon the arrival of Reebok as the new league supplier.

Nashville Predators 2000-01 jersey photo NashvillePredators2000-01F.jpg
Nashville Predators 2000-01 jersey photo NashvillePredators2000-01B.jpg
 photo NashvillePredators2000-01P.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2000-01 Pittsburgh Penguins Jaromir Jagr jersey as worn in Tokyo, Japan for the Game ONe Japan series in 2000.

This unusual asymmetric jersey arrived in 1995-96 among the first wave of alternate NHL jerseys. While some were complete failures and lasted just one season, such as those worn by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Kings, the Penguins jersey was promoted to the team's full time road jersey two seasons later and remained in use through the 2001-02 season.

Pittsburgh Penguins 2000-01 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins2000-01F.jpg
Pittsburgh Penguins 2000-01 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins2000-01B.jpg
Pittsburgh Penguins 2000-01 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins2000-01P.jpg

Our video section today features two clips of the Mighty Ducks and Kings beginning the current NHL Premiere series of games in Europe to start the 2007-08 season.

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