The 2010-11 season is barely in the record books, but it's already time to look ahead. The NHL unveiled its 2011-12 schedule Thursday. The season begins on Oct. 6 with three games and ends with a bang on April 7, when all 30 teams are in action -- and the season concludes on a Saturday rather than a Sunday. Each team will play 82 games -- 24 against teams in its own division, 40 against non-division teams in its own conference and the other 18 against teams from the other conference.
Here’s a look at some of the more interesting numbers for the upcoming season:
-- Games scheduled for Nov. 24 -- Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It's the only night during the regular season, excepting the Christmas and All-Star breaks, on which no games are scheduled.
-- Visit by the former Winnipeg Jets
to their former city. The Phoenix Coyotes
, who moved from Manitoba 15 years ago, will visit Winnipeg on Dec. 1. The Coyotes host Winnipeg in their home opener on Oct. 15.
-- Clubs that will serve as the opposition for three teams' North American home openers. Pittsburgh will be the guest at the openers in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, while Florida will be the visitor when the New York Islanders
, Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning
open their home schedules.
-- Consecutive years in which the Florida Panthers
are scheduled to host the Montreal Canadiens
on New Year's Eve. The Canadiens won 5-4 in 2009 and 3-2 in overtime in 2010.
-- Teams taking part in the Compuware NHL Premiere series. Anaheim, Buffalo, Los Angeles and the New York Rangers
will each play twice in games scheduled for Stockholm, Helsinki and Berlin.
-- Home games at the start of the season for the New York Islanders
. It's the most home games they've had at the start of a season since they entered the NHL in 1972 by playing their first seven games at the Nassau Coliseum. The Isles are opening at home for the third year in a row, but just the seventh time in franchise history.
-- Season-opening road trip for the Tampa Bay Lightning
before the Panthers come to the newly renovated St. Pete Times Forum on Oct. 17.
-- Road games at the start of the season for the New York Rangers
, including two in Europe and five in North America. With Madison Square Garden under renovation, the Rangers aren't scheduled to play their home opener until Oct. 27, the last North American home opener in the League.
-- Longest homestand by any team in '11-12. Both the Colorado Avalanche
and the newly relocated Winnipeg franchise are scheduled to have eight-game homestands.
-- Longest road trips by any teams in 2011-12. Both the Chicago Blackhawks
and San Jose Sharks
face nine-game trips -- the Hawks have their first nine games after the All-Star break away from the United Center, while the Sharks are away from HP Pavilion for nine in a row in mid- and late February.
-- Games scheduled for April 7, the final day of the regular season. It’s the fourth time in NHL history that all 30 teams are scheduled to play on the same day.
-- Sets of back-to-back games on the Buffalo Sabres
' schedule, the most of any team in the NHL. Sixteen of the 21 back-to-backs are Friday-Saturday games. Four teams play a League-low 10 back-to-backs.
-- Years since the NHL's regular-season schedule has ended on a Saturday. The last time it happened was March 24, 1928. The only time in the last 15 years that the schedule did not end on a Sunday was 2005-06, when it ended on Tuesday, April 18.