, who backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks
to the Stanley Cup just 101 days ago, will be one of many players joining a new team -- in Niemi's case, the San Jose Sharks
. Seven other players who dressed for Chicago that triumphant June evening are beginning careers elsewhere - four of them in Atlanta, where the Thrashers have retooled extensively. As National Hockey League training camps open, several team rosters feature dramatically new looks; five teams have new coaches and the Pittsburgh Penguins
are preparing for the official NHL opening of their brand new home - CONSOL Energy Center.
In addition to new teammates, the skaters face a new formula for breaking ties in the standings -- an added ingredient in the playoff races that begin virtually on the opening night of the season. There are new captains in Toronto (Dion Phaneuf
) and Nashville (Shea Weber
), new General Managers in Atlanta (Rick Dudley), Florida (Dale Tallon
), St. Louis (Doug Armstrong) and Tampa Bay (Steve Yzerman
The spectacular 2009-10 season, one that set records for revenues and TV ratings, was followed by an action-packed off-season. Here is a summary of those developments as the players return to the rinks to confront the questions that will become answers in 2010-11.