Davos gets a shot at Chicago

Victoria Cup event in Zurich confirmed; tickets on sale on June 1

20.05.2009
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Eight years after leaving Chicago, Swiss star Reto Von Arx gets a chance to play against "his" Blackhawks on September 28 in Zurich. Photo: Slava Yevdokimov

ZURICH – The schedule for the 2009 Victoria Cup event is now finalized. It will be the 29-time Swiss national champion HC Davos playing in the exhibition game against the Chicago Blackhawks the day before the Victoria Cup.

The second edition of the Victoria Cup event will feature:
  • Monday, September 28: HC Davos vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Exhibition game)
  • Tuesday, September 29: ZSC Zurich Lions vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Victoria Cup)

Both games will be played at the 11,095-seat Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland. Starting times are 20.15 CET (both games).

It will be the first time both Davos and Zurich will play an NHL club.

Tickets for both games will be available on www.ticketcorner.com starting on Monday, June 1, for the general public. There will be a pre-sale for authorized fan-clubs and club partners on Thursday, May 28.  

The IIHF, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association announced on May 10 that the Chicago Blackhawks were the NHL representative for the 2009 Victoria Cup.

The ZSC Zurich Lions defeated Metallurg Magnitogorsk, 5-0, on January 28, 2009, to win the inaugural Champions Hockey League, earning the right to challenge the Blackhawks for the Victoria Cup.

The New York Rangers won the inaugural Victoria Cup on October 1, 2008, defeating Russia’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk, 4-3, in Berne, Switzerland.

The selection of HC Davos for the exhibition game was a natural choice according to IIHF President René Fasel:

“As Zurich’s sensational Champions Hockey League win in January was a win also for Swiss hockey, we feel that there is no better club than the 29-time national champion to represent the soul and the history of Swiss hockey,” said Fasel. “Davos being the reigning Swiss champion makes it even more compelling.”

By all accounts, HC Davos (founded in 1921, also the host of the traditional Spengler Cup since 1923) is the most popular club in Switzerland, enjoying fan support all over the country.

Two of Davos’ best forwards, Reto von Arx and Czech Josef Marha, played earlier with Chicago. Von Arx became the first Swiss skater to play a full NHL game and also the first Swiss to score a goal in the NHL when he skated for the Blackhawks during the 2000-2001 season.

NHL stars Joe Thornton (San José) and Rick Nash (Columbus) skated with HC Davos during the lockout season 2004-05.

The Chicago Blackhawks established an NHL club record this season by attracting an average of 21,783 to their 40 home dates at United Center (not including the 40,818 who filled Wrigley Field for the Winter Classic vs. Detroit on New Year's Day).

This makes Chicago not only the best drawing hockey club in North America, but also in the world. The Blackhawks were playing to 106% capacity which is a 31% increase from last season and a 72% increase from 06-07.

This will be the NHL club’s first visit to Europe since 1992, but it will mark the first time that Chicago – founded in 1926 – will play against a European club in Europe. The two games the club played in London, England, 17 years ago were exhibitions against NHL rival Montreal.

“The National Hockey League and the New York Rangers were very satisfied with the overall organisation around the inaugural Victoria Cup,” said Ken Yaffe, Senior Vice-President of NHL International. “We hope the Victoria Cup continues to be an annual event which sees the best of the NHL play the best club in Europe.”

“The Victoria Cup is a great opportunity for players on both clubs to experience the excitement of playing in a unique international hockey competition," said Paul Kelly, NHLPA Executive Director. “The NHLPA members on the Chicago Blackhawks are looking forward to playing for the Victoria Cup, as well as the chance to enjoy the Swiss culture and their passion for the game of hockey."

Ovation Sports, the marketing agent of the event, is looking to expand the Victoria Cup to greater levels in 2009 based on last year’s excellent experience in Berne.

“Zurich and Chicago are two of the great sport and culture cities in the world and we are working to add a cultural exchange element into this year’s Victoria Cup experience. Last year proved that the Victoria Cup is a brilliant concept and that fans on both sides of the Atlantic are excited about the NHL vs. CHL match up. We are expecting tickets for this year's event to sell very quickly,” says Ovation COO Tom Huston.

The three-time Stanley Cup winner Chicago is one of the most improved clubs in the NHL, having won two playoff rounds (vs. Calgary and Vancouver) and they are currently playing vs. Detroit in the Western Conference Final. The team is led by the forward duo of Patrick Kane (USA) and Jonathan Toews (CAN) along with Czech Martin Havlat.

Chicago has two European goaltenders; Russia’s Nikolai Khabibulin and France’s Cristobal Huet, who starred in the Swiss league with HC Lugano before he went to the NHL in 2002. Sweden’s Samuel Påhlsson, recognized as one of the best defensive forwards in the league, was acquired by the ‘Hawks at the trading deadline in March.   

The Victoria Cup was introduced by the IIHF during its 100 Year Anniversary to encourage competition between NHL and European club teams. The annually awarded trophy was named to recognize the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal, the place where the first organized hockey game was played. The rink, originally located between Drummond and Stanley streets, south of St. Catherine Street, measured almost exactly 200’ x 85’, the size of a standard Canadian rink ever since. 

<table><tbody><tr class="odd"><td colspan="4">Chicago vs. European teams</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>Date</td><td>Venue</td><td>Game</td><td>Score</td></tr><tr class="odd"><td>Jan. 7, 1976</td><td>Chicago (USA)</td><td>Chicago Blackhawks vs. Krylya Sovietov Moscow (URS)</td><td>2-4</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>Dec. 31, 1977</td><td>Chicago (USA)</td><td>Chicago Blackhawks vs. Poldi Kladno (TCH)</td><td>4-6</td></tr><tr class="odd"><td>Jan. 4, 1989</td><td>Chicago (USA)</td><td>Chicago Blackhawks vs. Dinamo Riga (URS)</td><td>4-1</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>Jan. 7, 1990</td><td>Chicago (USA)</td><td>Chicago Blackhawks vs. CSKA Moscow (URS)</td><td>4-6</td></tr><tr class="odd"><td>Jan. 1, 1991</td><td>Chicago (USA)</td><td>Chicago Blackhawks vs. CSKA Moscow (URS)</td><td>2-4</td></tr><tr><td colspan="4"> </td></tr><tr class="odd"><td colspan="4">Chicago vs. NHL teams in Europe</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>Date</td><td>Venue</td><td>Game</td><td>Score</td></tr><tr class="odd"><td>Sep. 12, 1992</td><td>London (GBR)</td><td>Montreal Canadiens vs. Chicago Blackhawks</td><td>3-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>Sep. 13, 1992</td><td>London (GBR)</td><td>Montreal Canadiens vs. Chicago Blackhawks</td><td>4-5 OT</td></tr></tbody></table>

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