In years past, this would usually be the day the NHL released the schedule. Since it was unveiled right before the draft (and when I was out west), today we take a look at some dates you’ll want circled on your hockey calendar this season…
1. Outdoor games: January 1 & February 20 For the first time, the NHL will have a pair of outdoor games to showcase. The annual Winter Classic heads to Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field for a great matchup between the Penguins and Capitals – arguably the hottest rivalry in the game today. Over a month later, McMahon Stadium in Calgary will play host to the Flames and Canadiens in the Heritage Classic. Both games should be must-see TV for any hockey fan!
2. Home openers: October 7 & October 9 Out of the 30 openers around the league, two stick out like a sore thumb. On opening night, the Penguins open up their new arena, Consol Energy Center. After leaving Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh will open ‘The House that Sid Built’ against rival Philadelphia.
Two nights later in Chicago, the Blackhawks will raise their championship banner – with the Red Wings in the house! It was a slick move for them to open the home season against Detroit. I’m sure there will also be some sort of ceremony for the late Bob Probert, who played for both teams.
3. Hockey Day in Canada: February 12 This is always one of my favorites day of the year, where you sit in front of the tube and watch CBC’s coverage all… day… long! The festivities kick off with a matinee in Edmonton between the Oilers and Senators; the primetime game features bitter rivals Montreal and Toronto; and the night-cap also features rivals – this time it’s the Flames traveling to Vancouver! Hockey Day in Canada will be broadcasted live from Whitehouse, Yukon.
4. Flyers at Blackhawks: January 23 The rematch of the Stanley Cup Final takes place in the Windy City, where the Blackhawks will welcome back the Flyers to the ‘Madhouse’. Chicago defeated Philadelphia 4-2 in this spring’s final, and the series was won in overtime of Game 6 by Patrick Kane. There will be some new faces in this tilt, but the intensity will ratchet up once again!
5. Compuware NHL Premiere: October 7 – October 10 For the fourth straight year, the league will open its season overseas. Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and Prague, Czech Republic will play host to six teams over a four-day span. The Wild and Hurricanes get the party started in Helsinki on October 7, while the Bruins and Coyotes end it on October 10 in Prague. In Stockholm, San Jose and Columbus will also play two games. The thing I like most about these games? They are all matinee affairs… a great way to kick off the season!
Other dates to remember: October 30: 14 games (busiest day of season) January 30: All-Star Game in Raleigh February 20: Hockey Day in America April 13: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin!
Notable playoff rematches: October 9: Canadiens at Penguins October 9: Kings at Canucks October 20: Canucks at Blackhawks November 24: Blackhawks at Sharks December 1: Bruins at Flyers December 28: Canadiens at Capitals
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.