JONES: Edmonton Oilers have short history of games in Europe

Only once before have the Edmonton Oilers played a game against another NHL team in Europe.

They lost 10-1 to the St. Louis Blues in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Commissioner Gary Bettman announced at the NHL All-Star Weekend Saturday that, 27 years later, they’re going to go back.

The Oilers will play a preseason game in Germany and open the regular season with a game against Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils.

In 1990, after winning their fifth Stanley Cup in seven seasons, the Oilers scheduled a 16-day excursion to Europe but they couldn’t convince themselves that the 1990 Epson Cup in Dusseldorf was the Stanley Cup.

The Oilers beat Duesseldorf 2-0, the Blues won 3-1 and the Oilers were clobbered 10-1 by St. Louis in the other game as the fans chanted “Oilers! Oilers! Ha, ha, ha!”

“Something to cherish for life,” said Craig MacTavish of the silver medal.

Those three games were played Sept. 6-8, 1990.

Erik Karlsson #65 of Ottawa Senators enters the ice for warmup ahead of the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series match between Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche at Ericsson Globe on November 10, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. Nils Petter Nilsson / Getty Images

When it was over, the Oilers travelled by boat down the Rhine, took a six and a half hour train ride past hillside vineyards and castles and enjoyed a terrific tour of Bavaria.

The team ended up in Austria with a 12-3 win over Graz EC.

“I’m all cultured out,” said Adam Graves when it was over and the team headed home.

It wasn’t until seven years after the Oilers trip that the NHL decided to play its first regular season games overseas.

In 1997, the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks played the first set of regular season games overseas, in Tokyo, splitting the games that opened the schedule. Both ended up 3-2.

A year later the Flames went back and registered a 3-3 tie and a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks to open the season in Tokyo. Nashville and Pittsburgh split a season opening set in Japan in 2000.

In 2007 the NHL opened the season in Europe for the first time with the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks splitting a pair of 4-1 games in London, England. The Kings went over early and won a pair in Salzburg, Austria, 3-2 over Sweden’s Farjestad and 7-6 over Red Bull Salzburg.

The following four years, four NHL teams headed over to play in NHL Premiere.

In 2008 the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers played two regular season games each plus warm-up games against club teams. Ottawa beat Pittsburgh twice in Stockholm and New York defeated Tampa Bay twice in Prague. The games against club teams were held in Bern (2), Bratislava, Helsinki and Berlin.

In 2009 the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers went over and played against club teams in games in Tampere, Zurich, Linkoping, Helsinki and Karlstad before Chicago and Florida split in Helsinki and Detroit and St. Louis split in Stockholm in the regular season games.

In 2010, a record six NHL teams — Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild — went over and played club teams in such scattered centres such as Riga, Malmo, St. Petersburg, Mannheim, Belfast and Liberec. Carolina took two from Minnesota in Helsinki, Columbus and San Jose split in Stockholm and Boston and Phoenix split in Prague.

In 2011 it was back to four teams travelling to Europe to open the season — the Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers.

New York chose to go over early to play club teams in Prague, Gothenberg, Bratislava and Zug. They won the first three but lost to the Swiss team 8-4 in Zug.

The Ducks, Sabres and Kings played one each in Helsinki, Hamburg and Mannheim before Buffalo defeated Anaheim in Helsinki, L.A. and Anaheim scored overtime wins over New York in Stockholm and Buffalo beat L.A. in Berlin.

That was it until this year when the NHL went to China for the first time with the L.A. Kings defeating the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 in Shanghai and 4-3 in a shootout in Beijing in late September preseason games.

In November the Ottawa Senators scored a pair of 4-3 (one in OT) wins over the Colorado Avalanche in Stockholm in the first regular season games in Europe since NHL Premiere in 2011.