GLENDALE – OK, so the 2013-14 schedule is now out and I must say I’m quite excited that ALL of the other 29 NHL teams will play the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena this season. It has been quite some time since Arizona hockey fans have gotten a chance to watch NHL stars such as Sidney Crosby, Henrik Lundqvist, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares and Zdeno Chara on home turf in the same season.
And yes, it's still the “Phoenix Coyotes.” For those who haven’t heard, the team will be changing its name from the Phoenix Coyotes to the Arizona Coyotes in the future but not this season. Most likely, the name change will go into effect for the 2014-15 NHL season but not before. PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD!
Here are five other things I noticed about the Coyotes 2013-14 schedule at first glance:
• The Coyotes will open the 2013-14 season at home vs. the New York Rangers on Oct. 3, then play five straight road games.
• The Coyotes will play their last two games of the regular season at home on back-to-back nights: April 12 vs. San Jose and April 13 vs. Dallas. All in all, the Coyotes will play 12 sets of back-to-back games.
• The Coyotes will play three home games vs. new Pacific Division rivals Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Anaheim, LA and San Jose will visit two times each.
• The Coyotes will play home games on Halloween (vs. Nashville) and New Year’s Eve (vs. Edmonton). It's always fun to play home games on holidays, don't you think?
• The NHL will suspend its schedule from Feb. 9-26 so its players can play in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Along with the schedule, the NHL on Friday also announced the division names for the four new divisions: Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific.
The Coyotes, of course, are in the Pacific Division, and in case you haven’t been paying close attention, it’s now a seven-team division that also includes Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose and Vancouver.
The Coyotes and free-agent forward Mikkel Boedker continue to negotiate his next contract. Boedker, 23, is a restricted free agent. The good news is he did NOT file for salary arbitration. Stay tuned...
Follow Dave Vest on Twitter @davest4yotes.