(AP) It was a bittersweet moment for the NHL.
The league was hoping to play games in Nashville, Tennessee, but the NBA and NBA Players Association had announced they wouldn’t go ahead with the season opener.
Now, Nashville is hosting the opening round.
And it’s not even that it’s the right place for the start of the NHL season, but that the Predators will be there.
“It was definitely bittersweet,” Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile said.
“But we felt that the right way to get the most out of it was to come here, and it was something that we had to do.”
The NHL will also have an arena on the site of a former ice rink where the Predators have been playing since 1999.
“The goal is to have a facility that is the best in the world, and I think we have the best facilities in the league, and we want to get out of here as soon as possible,” Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said.
The Predators will play a team in the American Hockey League in 2018-19.
The NHL opened its inaugural season in the Twin Cities in 2019-20 and will play four games in 2017-18.
The 2017-19 season will mark the second time the NHL has played in Nashville.
It was the only NHL team to play there in the early 1980s and is the only franchise to win the Cup twice in Nashville’s history.
The city is known as the hometown of Predators star Ryan Johansen, who played his entire career in the area.
The arena opened in 1996 and is known for hosting concerts, concerts and sporting events.
It’s the only team to have its own arena on a major professional sports field.
In 2015, Nashville hosted the NHL All-Star Game, but no Predators players participated.
The Nashville Predators will host the NHL regular season opener against the New York Rangers at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 4.
The game will be televised live on NBCSN and the NHL Network.
The Rangers will play their season opener at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Jan 1.
The other two teams that will host are the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Tickets are available online at the Predators website or by calling the club at 1-800-745-3000.
The opening game of the season will be on March 8.
The series between the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals is scheduled to begin March 13 at Bridgeland Arena in Nashville and conclude April 4 at Verizon Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.