TORONTO – Winnipeg hockey fans will be circling Dec. 1 on their new NHL calendar.
That’s the date Winnipeg franchises collide when the new team hosts the old one—better known as the Phoenix Coyotes.
The two club meet in the desert on Oct. 15, a little less than a week after Winnipeg opens its regular season at home with an Oct. 9 game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Because of the late timing of the relocation from Atlanta, the as yet-unnamed club will remain in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference this season before an expected shift to the West next season.
There will be seven all-Canadian matchups at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre. Besides two visits by the Habs, including a Dec. 22 matchup, the Toronto Maple Leafs will arrive New Year’s Eve and return Feb. 7. Ottawa comes calling on Nov. 29 and March 26, and the Edmonton Oilers visit Feb. 27.
Opening night is Oct. 6 when the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers, the Maple Leafs entertain the Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Canucks in Vancouver.
Sidney Crosby, who is expected be back from his concussion, and the Penguins continue their western Canadian swing after Vancouver, with stops in Calgary (Oct. 8) and Edmonton (Oct. 9). It will be the season opener for both Alberta-based clubs.
The Canucks will have to wait until 2012 for a rematch with their Stanley Cup foes the Bruins. The two are set to meet Jan. 7 in Boston and it will be the only meeting of the season between the Cup finalists.
The defending champions visit Winnipeg on Dec. 6 for the first time in 15 years.
The Philadelphia Flyers will reportedly play host to the New York Rangers in the outdoor Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies, on Jan. 2.
Two teams have nine-game road trips during the season.
Chicago leaves town when the circus comes to the United Center from Jan. 31 to Feb. 18. San Jose hits the road from Feb. 12 to 26 because of a tennis tournament at the HP Pavilion.
The Rangers will play their first seven games away from home because of renovations to Madison Square Garden. They will play two games in Europe and one on Long Island before a four-game tour of Western Canada.
The Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks will also start their seasons over two days in Europe. A total of four games will be played in Stockholm, Helsinki, and Berlin, marking the first time the NHL will stage a game in Germany.
Every club will get a break from the league’s 1,230-game schedule from Jan. 26-30 for all-star festivities in Ottawa.
The regular season ends April 7 with 15 games on tap.
Each team plays six games against each team in its division (24 games), four games against the non-division teams within its conference (40 games), plus 18 non-conference games—including at least one game against each club in the other conference (15 games) and three other games against select teams.
– with files from The Associated Press.