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Four games in Europe, Winter Classic in Chicago, All-Star game in Montreal highlight 2008-09 schedule

NHL.com @NHLdotcom
NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, Henrik Lundqvist and Daniel Alfredsson will lead their teams into action overseas; the Chicago Blackhawks will host the Detroit Red Wings New Year’s Day in NHL Winter Classic 2009, and the Montreal Canadiens will celebrate their Centennial season by hosting the All-Star Game and the Entry Draft. Those are just some of the highlights of the National Hockey League regular-season schedule for 2008-09.

Crosby and the Stanley Cup Finalist Pittsburgh Penguins will face Alfredsson’s Ottawa Senators in Stockholm, Sweden as part of NHL Premiere-Stockholm 2008 – a two-game regular-season Series set for Oct. 4-5. Lundqvist and the Rangers will square off against Lecavalier’s revamped Tampa Bay Lightning in NHL Premiere-Prague 2008, also on Oct. 4-5. This season marks the second consecutive season in which NHL clubs opened the schedule in Europe; last season opened with the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings playing a two-game set in London, England.

The champion Detroit Red Wings, who will raise their Stanley Cup banner to the ceiling of Joe Louis Arena prior to their season-opening Oct. 9 faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs, also will participate in one of the season’s most anticipated contests – NHL Winter Classic 2009 on New Year’s Day at Wrigley Field, the venerable home of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs.

The NHL spotlight will shine on Montreal throughout its Centennial season, with particular focus on the NHL All-Star Weekend festivities Jan. 24-25, 2009. In additional to celebrating its past with a variety of Centennial events, and its present with the All-Star showcase, the Canadiens will offer a glimpse of hockey’s future when the NHL Entry Draft is conducted at Bell Centre June 26-27.

The 1,230-game campaign will be conducted under a new scheduling matrix that calls for each team to 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 12 and the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin April 15.


SCHEDULE NOTES


"Home" Teams In Premiere Games: NHL Premiere Stockholm 2008 – Ottawa, Saturday, Oct. 4; Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 5. NHL Premiere Prague 2008 – Tampa Bay Oct. 4; NY Rangers, Oct. 5.

North American Opening Night: Oct. 9, Toronto @ Detroit, Boston @ Colorado, Anaheim @ San Jose and Calgary @ Vancouver.

Hall of Fame Game: Montreal @ Toronto, Saturday, Nov. 8.

Hockey Day In Canada: Feb. 21. Ottawa @ Montreal, 3 p.m., ET; Vancouver @ Toronto, 7 p.m., ET; Calgary @ Edmonton, 10 p.m., ET.

All-Star Break: Final games Jan. 21. Skills Competition Jan. 24. All-Star Game Jan. 25. Regular-season play resumes Jan. 27.

Meeting of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finalists: Pittsburgh visits Detroit, Tuesday, Nov. 11; Detroit visits Pittsburgh Sunday, Feb. 8.

Date when all 30 teams play: Sat., Oct. 25.

Regular season concludes: Sunday, April 12.

Playoffs begin: Wednesday, April 15.

OTHER DATA: Boston is the visiting team at three home openers (at Colorado Oct. 9, at Minnesota Oct. 11 and at Montreal Oct. 15) . . . Thrashers head coach John Anderson makes his NHL head coaching debut against his best friend, Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals in Atlanta Oct. 10 . . . Florida’s Peter DeBoer makes his regular-season NHL head coaching debut at Carolina Oct. 10 and the Sharks’ Todd McLellan coaches his inaugural NHL regular-season game in San Jose Oct. 9 against Anaheim . . . On Oct. 30, the Sharks are home to the Detroit Red Wings, with whom McLellan served as an assistant coach for the previous three seasons . . .  After the two NHL Premiere games against the Rangers in Prague, Tampa Bay’s Barry Melrose makes his North American return to coaching Saturday, Oct. 11 against Carolina. The contest also will mark the North American NHL debut of Tampa Bay’s top draft choice Steve Stamkos . . . New Toronto head coach Ron Wilson returns to San Jose Dec. 2.


(NORTH AMERICAN) HOME OPENERS


ANAHEIM -- Sunday, Oct. 12, Phoenix.
ATLANTA -- Friday, Oct. 10, Washington.
BOSTON -- Monday, Oct. 20, Pittsburgh.
BUFFALO -- Friday, Oct. 10, Montreal.
CALGARY --Saturday, Oct. 11, Vancouver.
CAROLINA -- Friday, Oct. 10, Florida.
CHICAGO -- Monday, Oct. 13, Nashville.
COLORADO -- Thursday, Oct. 9, Boston.
COLUMBUS -- Friday, Oct. 17, Nashville.
DALLAS -- Friday, Oct. 10, Columbus.
DETROIT -- Thursday, Oct. 9, Toronto.
EDMONTON -- Sunday, Oct. 12, Colorado.
FLORIDA -- Saturday, Oct. 11, Atlanta.
LOS ANGELES -- Sunday, Oct. 12, San Jose.
MINNESOTA -- Saturday, Oct. 11, Boston.
MONTREAL -- Wednesday, Oct. 15, Boston.
NASHVILLE -- Saturday, Oct. 11, Dallas.
NEW JERSEY -- Friday, Oct. 10, NY Islanders.
NY ISLANDERS -- Saturday, Oct. 11, St. Louis.
NY RANGERS -- Friday, Oct. 10, Chicago.
OTTAWA -- Saturday, Oct. 11, Detroit.
PHILADELPHIA -- Saturday, Oct. 11, NY Rangers.
PHOENIX -- Saturday, Oct. 11, Columbus.
PITTSBURGH -- Saturday, Oct. 11, New Jersey.
ST. LOUIS -- Friday, Oct. 10, Nashville.
SAN JOSE -- Thursday, Oct. 9, Anaheim.
TAMPA BAY -- Saturday, Oct. 11, Carolina.
TORONTO -- Saturday, Oct. 11, Montreal.
VANCOUVER -- Thursday, Oct. 9, Calgary.
WASHINGTON -- Saturday, Oct. 11, Chicago.


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