BERNE – Earlier this week, officials from the IIHF, the NHL and the New York Rangers met in Berne, Switzerland, the host city for the inaugural IIHF/NHL Victoria Cup. The two-day visit consisted of operations meetings with the IIHF and Ovation Sports, the agency managing the organization and marketing of this historic competition. The group also made a site-inspection of the city’s 16,789-capacity PostFinance arena where the event will be held. The arena is currently undergoing a 100 million CHF reconstruction project and will be ready for hockey when the Swiss league starts in September.
On October 1st 2008, the New York Rangers will face-off here against the European club champion, Russia’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk (winner of the 2008 European Champions Cup) in what will be the first Russia vs. NHL-matchup in 17 years. The last time an NHL-club played a team from Russia was on January 15th, 1991 when Dynamo Moscow defeated the Quebec Nordiques 4-1 in Quebec City.
The night before, the Rangers will play Swiss league’s SC Bern in an exhibition game, which will mark the first time a Swiss team will play an NHL club. SC Bern is one of the country’s premiere clubs and Europe’s prime attendance magnet with a game average of 15,939 fans.
Mark Piazza, Senior Vice President Sports Team Operations of the NY Rangers said: “We are very impressed with the preparations thus far. We are confident that the venue and the overall Victoria Cup will become a very special event for our players and also the NY Rangers fans.”
Piazza was accompanied on the site visit by Jason Vogel, Vice President Sports Team Operations of the NY Rangers and by Dean Matsuzaki, NHL’s Senior Director of Events and Entertainment.
“With the Victoria Cup, the IIHF and NHL are further raising international hockey to a new level,” said IIHF Communications Director Szymon Szemberg. “For the first time in hockey history, the Victoria Cup offers an international showcase for European clubs; a stage on which the best club in Europe can face the best in North America.”
The competition will also serve as the annual season-opener for both the NHL and the Champions Hockey League, the new pan-European competition which will determine the continent’s club champion each year. The Champions Hockey League is scheduled to start in October 2008.
The New York Rangers were the first-ever NHL-club to play against a European team when they met CSKA Moscow (USSR) on December 28, 1975 at the Madison Square Garden in New York.
The PostFinance Arena reconstruction includes interior renovations, which will be complete by the end of August, construction of high quality VIP boxes, media facilities, catering areas and other amenities. These improvements will make this arena Switzerland’s best hockey-dedicated venue, thereby setting the standard for all Victoria Cups to come. The PostFinance arena will also be the main venue for the 2009 IIHF World Championship in Switzerland.
During the two days of Victoria Cup, the event will be presented with a number of special features for the fans, the media, distinguished guests and experts from the worldwide hockey and business communities. These attractive side events surrounding the Victoria Cup will cater to the needs and interests of the fans from all over Europe and North America, expected in Berne for hockey’s first Victoria Cup.
The Victoria Cup is one of the main events during the IIHF’s 100 Year Anniversary celebrations. The cup is named after the Victoria Skating Rink where the first organised hockey game was played on March 3, 1875.
The IIHF, Ovation Sports and SC Bern will during April announce ticket sales information as well accreditation information for media.
Click here for more information on the Victoria Cup and the NHL’s games in Europe in autumn 2008.
Click here for a complete list of all NY Rangers games vs. European opposition as well as all NY Rangers vs. NHL clubs games played in Europe.