The Buffalo Sabres' 50th anniversary season is about to go global.
The Sabres headed Sunday night for Sweden, where they will spend the week preparing for the NHL Global Series in Stockholm. They meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in games Friday and Saturday, their first international contests since 2011.
"It's great for us as a team and an organization," Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill said. "When we went to the Winter Classic (in 2018 in New York), we certainly enjoyed being on a national stage but in this scenario here, you're representing the National Hockey League overseas. You're going over there and you'll really see how our game has grown the last decade or so."
"The closer you get, you talk to people back home and they're so excited for us to come," said Sabres center Johan Larsson, one of six Swedes on the Buffalo roster. "I look at it that it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to come home and play there in the NHL. To play in your home country is going to be unbelievable."
The Sabres, of course, are now an attraction in Sweden because they drafted Rasmus Dahlin at No. 1 overall in 2018. Dahlin's arrival made it feasible that Buffalo could be involved in international play, but it was a surprise when the NHL opted to pick the Sabres last March to play in Dahlin's homeland in just his second season in the league.