NHL reportedly to return to Europe to start 2008-09 season

The NHL has taken a liking to opening its season outside North America. Expect the same for the 2008-09 season.

The league will usher in next season in Prague, Czech Republic, with a two-game set between the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins, The Hockey News reported Wednesday on its Web site.

This regular season opened in Europe -- London, a first -- with a two-game series between the Los Angeles Kings and defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks. The Sept. 29-30 games at the O2 Arena were sold out.

The series represented the fourth time the NHL has begun its season outside North America, with the other three in Japan (1997, 1998 and 2000).

The 2008-09 opener would also start a "compressed" schedule, according to the Hockey News' report, that would push the regular season back a week to begin either Oct. 9 or 10 and do the same with the early portion of the schedule to avoid the season running a week longer.