The Washington Capitals are interested in playing a regular-season game in Russia, which would mark a first for the NHL.
“We’ve talked about different things overseas and we’ve talked about some in Russia or some in Sweden. We’re not sure; it’s a league decision,” Capitals President Dick Patrick told The Washington Post, adding that if it comes to pass, it will be within the next two seasons.
If the NHL wants to put a regular-season game in Russia, no team makes more sense than the Capitals, led for the past 15 years by Alex Ovechkin, by far the most popular Russian in the league. The Capitals have a high number of Russian players besides Ovechkin, including center Evgeny Kuznetsov and rookie goalie Ilya Samsonov.
Similarly, Swedish center Nicklas Backstrom is a star in his home country, which could make the Capitals a logical choice the next time the NHL returns to the hockey-loving Scandinavian country.
The league has held the NHL Global Series since 2017. In 2020, the Global Series will bring regular-season games to the Czech Republic and Finland and exhibition games against European teams to Germany and Switzerland.
No NHL team has played in Russia since 2010, when the Carolina Hurricanes lost an exhibition game to SKA Saint Petersburg. In 1989, the Capitals toured cities in the USSR to play exhibitions. But there has never been a regular-season NHL game held in Russia, a country of almost 150 million people.