We already knew that the Rangers would be starting their regular season in Sweden next Fall, but much like before the 2008-2009 season, the Rangers will once again play an exhibition game against a European club. Two years ago they faced SC Bern and Metallurg Magnitogorsk. This year it will be HC Sparta Praha (Prague), the most reputable team in the Czech league. Sparta Praha has existed since the early 1900’s and has won 4 Czech Extraliga championships since 2000. Former Rangers Jan Hlavac and Martin Rucinsky started the 2010-2011 season with them but were both eventually moved. The most notable player on their roster currently is David Vyborny, who had 3 20+ goal seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is not as big of a deal as in 2008 when the Rangers went to the Czech Republic with Michal Rozsival and Petr Prucha, both Czech natives, on the roster, but the Rangers have a huge fanbase all over Europe. Maybe the Slovaks will travel to see Gaborik.
For those of you who think this is simply pure gimmick, think again. Look at the reaction the Rangers, and Ryan Callahan especially, had when he scored the game winning goal with under a minute remaining when the Rangers took on Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2008. There were quite a few post-whistle scrums as well.