Playing in Europe will be a first for the Flyers, and the franchise will have a chance to spread its logo overseas.
And two of their players, Radko Gudas and Jake Voracek, will have a chance to go home.
The Flyers will open their 2019-20 season in Prague with two games against the Chicago Blackhawks, the league officially announced Thursday.
“This is truly a historic moment for the organization as we take our hockey club overseas for the very first time," Flyers president Paul Holmgren said in release. "Throughout our history we have had a number of players from many different countries worldwide call Philadelphia home. Now, we are excited to have this opportunity to represent the Flyers on the international stage, and we look forward to opening the 2019-20 season against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague.”
For Czech Republic natives like Gudas and Voracek, and Dominik Kahun and David Kampf of the Blackhawks, it’s the perfect way to start the season.
“It was amazing when I first heard,” Gudas said before the Flyers played the Canadiens in a key game Tuesday night. “I was born in Prague and lived there until I was 14 or 15, and I live just outside there.”
In the summer, Gudas, his wife and two small children live in a town about 20 minutes from Prague and not far from Voracek, who grew up in Kladno.
“We live 20 minutes from each other,” Gudas said. “We’re pretty tight and we see each other quite a lot in the summer.”
Based on Twitter responses, hundreds (thousands?) of Flyers fans plan to make the trek to Prague. Gudas said they are going to like what they see.
“It has tiny streets and there’s a variety of places to go – restaurants, bars, pubs – and everybody loves hockey there,” Gudas said. “You just walk around and choose the random pub and you’ll meet the nicest people that know a lot about hockey like the people here.”
The city has a charming flavor, Gudas said.
“Pretty much if you buy a house, you have to keep an old-school version of the house,” he said. “It’s a city rule. They want to keep the history of the house.”
The Flyers are expected to have several practices in Prague before the games are played. “A week is what it usually takes for the body to naturally adjust,” Gudas said.
The Flyers’ power play was 0-for-17 in its last seven games before Tuesday.
Interim coach Scott Gordon blamed some of it on poor performances in the faceoff circle. But the Flyers were clicking at a healthy 65.5 percent (19-for-29) on power-play draws during that span. Poor zone entries and too much passing have been other factors.