NEW YORK (July 15, 2009) – Joe Sakic’s sweater number 19 ascends to the Pepsi Center rafters on Opening Night of a 2009-10 NHL season that commences with four clubs starting their schedules in Europe, soars on New Year’s Day with the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers facing off in Fenway Park in the 2010 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic and takes a break in February so that the world’s greatest hockey players can represent their countries at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The retirement of Sakic’s number by the Colorado Avalanche will precede the Colorado-San Jose game in Denver on Oct. 1 that is one of four on the first night of the NHL’s 2009-10 calendar.
The next night, captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg return to their native Sweden to lead the Detroit Red Wings against the St. Louis Blues in the two-game NHL Premiere-Stockholm 2009 that is set for Oct. 2 and 3. The same two nights in Finland, the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers will square off in NHL Premiere-Helsinki.
Back in North America on Oct. 2, the Pittsburgh Penguins will raise their 2009 Stanley Cup championship banner to the Mellon Arena roof before taking on the New York Rangers in the season opener for both clubs. The next night, Saturday, Oct. 3, all 30 NHL teams will be in action in a full slate of 15 games.
Coming off a resounding 2008-09 season in which they led the Eastern Conference with 116 points, the Boston Bruins will play host to the Philadelphia Flyers in one of the signature events of the 2009-10 season – the 2010 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic. The Green Monster will watch over the proceedings as Boston’s storied Fenway Park serves as the site of the open-air match between these long-time, fierce rivals.
Six weeks later, the schedule pauses while NHL players dominate the rosters of the national teams competing in Vancouver for Olympic gold. The NHL season resumes March 1 with the annual mad dash for 16 precious playoff berths that is the League’s stretch run.
The 1,230-game regular season will be conducted under the scheduling matrix that was instituted for last season. Each team will play 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 – at least one game against each club in the other conference (15 games) and three home-and-home series against non-conference teams.
The regular season concludes April 11 and the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin April 14.
SCHEDULE NOTES - Season Opening Night: Oct. 1 -- Washington @ Boston, Montreal @ Toronto, San Jose @ Colorado, Vancouver @ Calgary.
- “Home” Teams in Premiere Games: NHL Premiere Helsinki – Chicago, Friday, Oct. 2; Florida, Saturday, Oct. 3. NHL Premiere Stockholm – St. Louis, Friday, Oct. 2; Detroit, Saturday, Oct. 3.
- Hall of Fame Game: Detroit @ Toronto, Saturday, Nov. 7.
- Hockey Day in Canada: Jan. 30. Montreal @ Ottawa, 2 p.m. ET; Vancouver @ Toronto, 7 p.m. ET; Edmonton @ Calgary, 10 p.m. ET.
- Olympic Break: Final NHL games Feb. 14. Olympic Tournament Feb. 16-28. NHL regular-season play resumes March 1.
- Meetings of 2009 Stanley Cup Finalists: Detroit visits Pittsburgh Sunday, Jan. 31; Pittsburgh visits Detroit Monday, March 22.
- Dates when all 30 teams play: Saturday, Oct. 3; Saturday, Oct. 24.
- Regular season concludes: Sunday, April 11.
- Playoffs begin: Wednesday, April 14.
OTHER DATA: New Jersey G Martin Brodeur’s first appearance of the season will be his 1,000th NHL game, second most among goaltenders in League history behind Patrick Roy’s 1,029…Joe Sacco makes his NHL head coaching debut Oct. 1 when his Colorado Avalanche play host to San Jose…On Oct. 3, Todd Richards makes his NHL head coaching debut for Minnesota at Columbus…Dec. 4 is the 100th birthday of the Montreal Canadiens franchise. Boston visits Montreal that night...Jan. 5 is the 100th anniversary of the Canadiens’ first game. They are at Washington that night…NY Rangers RW Marian Gaborik, the last member of the inaugural Minnesota Wild team, plays his first career game against the franchise Oct. 30 at St. Paul…Jacques Lemaire, the only coach in Wild history until he stepped down at the end of the 2008-09 season, returns to Minnesota as head coach of New Jersey on Jan. 2…The Vancouver Canucks will play 14 straight road games, an NHL record, from Jan. 30 through March 10 while the city hosts the Olympics…Having played his entire 13-season career with the Montreal Canadiens – the last nine seasons as captain – Anaheim’s Saku Koivu faces the Habs for the first time on March 7 in Anaheim. NORTH AMERICAN HOME OPENERS ANAHEIM – Saturday, Oct. 3, San Jose. ATLANTA – Saturday, Oct. 3, Tampa Bay. BOSTON – Thursday, Oct. 1, Washington. BUFFALO – Thursday, Oct. 3, Montreal. CALGARY – Thursday, Oct. 1, Vancouver. CAROLINA – Friday, Oct. 2, Philadelphia. CHICAGO – Saturday, Oct. 10, Colorado. COLORADO – Thursday, Oct. 1, San Jose. COLUMBUS – Saturday, Oct. 3, Minnesota. DALLAS – Saturday, Oct. 3, Nashville. DETROIT – Thursday, Oct. 8, Chicago. EDMONTON – Saturday, Oct. 3, Calgary. FLORIDA – Saturday, Oct. 10, New Jersey. LOS ANGELES – Saturday, Oct. 3, Phoenix. MINNESOTA – Tuesday, Oct. 6, Anaheim. MONTREAL – Thursday, Oct. 15, Colorado. NASHVILLE – Thursday, Oct. 8, Colorado. NEW JERSEY – Saturday, Oct. 3, Philadelphia. NY ISLANDERS – Saturday, Oct. 3, Pittsburgh. NY RANGERS – Saturday, Oct. 3, Ottawa. OTTAWA – Thursday, Oct. 8, NY Islanders. PHILADELPHIA – Tuesday, Oct. 6, Washington. PHOENIX – Saturday, Oct. 10, Columbus. PITTSBURGH – Friday, Oct. 2, NY Rangers. ST. LOUIS – Thursday, Oct. 8, Atlanta. SAN JOSE – Thursday, Oct. 8, Columbus. TAMPA BAY – Thursday, Oct. 8, New Jersey. TORONTO – Thursday, Oct. 1, Montreal. VANCOUVER – Monday, Oct. 5, Columbus. WASHINGTON – Saturday, Oct. 3, Toronto.