Tomas Hertl can’t wait.
This morning, the NHL announced that the San Jose Sharks will open the 2022-23 regular season in Prague, Czechia. The Sharks are scheduled to face off against the Nashville Predators at O2 Arena on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8.
Before that, the Sharks will finish training camp in Berlin, Germany, highlighted by a pre-season game against Eisbären Berlin at Mercedes-Benz Arena on Oct. 4. Sharks owner Hasso Plattner is a Berlin native and lives in Germany.
“I can’t wait for the experience,” Prague native Hertl told us this morning. “We will play in the building that I started to play pro hockey in. I used to go to watch hockey. And now I’ll be playing an NHL game [there].”
Hertl started his pro career at HC Slavia Praha in 2010-11. The San Jose Sharks selected the centerman in the first round of the 2012 Draft, and recently re-signed him to an eight-year, $65.1 million dollar extension.
Hertl is already being flooded by ticket requests, saying with a smile that his brother has asked him for 30 tickets just for friends.
He’ll also have to take care of his teammates. At the moment, the Sharks have one Czech player (Radim Simek) and one Czech prospect (Adam Raska). So it might fall on the alternate captain to lead the way around town too.
“We’ve got [some] of the best beers in the world,” Hertl said, laughing. “For me, it’s the easy choice to just take them to the pub.”
Bob Boughner has his share of overseas experience too. He was a defenseman on the Pittsburgh Penguins when they played Nashville in Tokyo at the beginning of the 2000-01 season, an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets when they opened the year against the San Jose Sharks in Stockholm in 2010-11, and a head coach with the Florida Panthers when they faced off against the Winnipeg Jets in Helsinki in 2018-19.
“It’s a neat bonding experience,” he shared. “It’s always a great experience for these guys to play overseas, pretty special to represent the league.”
Hertl echoed Boughner: “For guys [who have] never played in Europe, it’s a great experience. I love playing in Europe, you score a goal, the whole arena will yell your name. It’s a pretty cool experience, especially when you’re starting pro hockey.”
He expects a raucous atmosphere in Czechia in October: “There’s singing just for singing.
“Some of the fans aren’t even watching the game.
“Fans, they’re watching the other fans and they just keep like singing. If it’s the power play, they’re singing for the power play. If it’s PK, they’re singing for the PK.”
Besides the San Jose Sharks-Nashville Predators tilts in Prague, the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets will match up at Nokia Arena in Tampere, Finland on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5.
Want to be there for San Jose Sharks history? Check here for ticket info and more.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.