The NHL released the 2016-17 regular season schedule, and the four-game opening night is set for Oct. 12.
The season will kick off with the Toronto Maple Leafs visiting the Ottawa Senators, which will be followed by a pair of first-round playoff rematches with the St. Louis Blues visiting the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks, who will raise their first Western Conference championship banner, hosting the Los Angeles Kings. That same night will also see the Edmonton Oilers begin a new era and open up their new arena, Rogers Place, against the rival Calgary Flames.
The day after the season opens, the Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Washington Capitals and raise their fourth Stanley Cup banner and first for a team that has called the CONSOL Energy Center home.
It won’t take long before the Penguins get a chance to prove, once again, they were the rightful Stanley Cup champions, either. Only nine days after the season opens, the Penguins will host the Sharks in a rematch of the Stanley Cup final, and the two teams will collide again little more than two weeks later when the Sharks host the Penguins at the SAP Center.
Just as the Penguins will strive to prove they’re still superior to the Sharks, San Jose will get a chance to show the St. Louis Blues that the Western Conference final was no fluke. The clash between the 2015-16 Pacific and Central Division champions will take place Nov. 17, and the Penguins will get their chance at maintaining their Eastern Conference dominance over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 10.
The upcoming campaign will also feature a number of major events, including four outdoor games, the All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles from Jan. 27-30 and each team will receive a bye week.
The first major outdoor game of the year will come early in the campaign. Before the Oilers or Jets are even two weeks into their season, they will head outdoors in Winnipeg’s frigid winter to play in the Heritage Classic. The contest will feature an alumni game set to include the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Teemu Selanne and Dale Hawerchuk.
The Heritage Classic will be followed by the traditional Jan. 1 game, which will see the Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings in what has been dubbed the NHL Centennial Classic. The game will be held at Toronto’s BMO Field — the first outdoor game in Toronto — and “be the start of a year-long centennial celebration featuring a variety of ceremonies, recognitions, observances and special events highlighting 100 years of NHL hockey,” per the NHL.
The Centennial Classic will be followed by the annual Winter Classic, which will take place on Jan. 2 this season and see the Blackhawks, veterans of the outdoor games, head to St. Louis to face the Blues, who will be participating in and hosting an outdoor game for the first time in franchise history.
The final outdoor game of the season comes in late-February, which will see the rivalry between the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers head outdoors. The Feb. 25 game will be played at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field.
There are also three games made notable by off-season movement, beginning with a Dec. 19 contest in Toronto. The Maple Leafs will host the Anaheim Ducks, and former coach Randy Carlyle, for the first and only time in mid-December, and it will also be the first meeting between Maple Leafs’ recently acquired goaltender Frederik Andersen and his former team. Andersen will get his welcome back to Anaheim much later in the year when the Maple Leafs head to California for a game against the Ducks on March 3.
In addition, Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen will get their shot at proving the Blackhawks foolish for dealing the duo away when Chicago heads to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes on Dec. 30.
And while it doesn’t exactly have to do with player movement, one game that might have fans giddy with excitement the Oct. 19 game between the Jets and Maple Leafs, which will potentially pit Auston Matthews against Patrik Laine. If Matthews is indeed drafted to the Maple Leafs as is expected, he’ll have his first meeting with last season’s No. 1 pick, Connor McDavid, on Nov. 1.
The regular season will end April 9, and 20 teams will be in action, including the Detroit Red Wings.
Detroit is slated to move the brand new Little Caesars Arena in time for the 2017-18 campaign, which will make the April 9 contest the final regular season game at the Joe Louis Arena.