It has been less than a month since the thrilling conclusion to the Stanley Cup Final, but already, hockey fans have plenty to look forward as on July 19, the NHL unveiled complete team schedules for the 2013-14 season, as well as special event details, Olympic dates, and a breakdown on realignment.
For starters, NHL hockey will return to the full 82-game slate, which will open on Tuesday, Oct. 1, with preseason contests beginning on Sept. 13. In accordance with the previously scheduled conference realignment, which will go into effect this season, all 30 teams will play at every venue at least once a year. The restructuring now includes the following divisions and conferences:
Metropolitan Division: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, NY Islanders and Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
Atlantic Division: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Pacific Division: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver
Central Division: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg
In addition to the conference realignment, the format for the Stanley Cup playoffs also will get a makeover. Effective through at least the 2015-16 season, the top three teams in each of the four divisions will lock up the first 12 playoff spots. The remaining two “Wild Card” slots will go to the top remaining team in each conference based on regular-season point totals, regardless of division.
Additional Items of Note:
-From Feb. 9-25, play will be suspended to allow NHL players to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
2014 NHL Winter Classic:
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings | Wednesday, Jan. 1, Michigan Stadium
2014 NHL Stadium Series:
Anaheim Ducks vs. LA Kings | Saturday, Jan. 25, Dodger Stadium
New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils | Sunday, Jan. 26, Yankee Stadium
New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders | Wednesday, Jan. 29, Yankee Stadium
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks | Saturday, March 1, Soldier Field
2014 NHL Heritage Classic:
Ottawa Senators vs. Vancouver Canucks | Sunday, March 2, BC Place Stadium
Final Day of Regular Season: Sunday, April 13
Start of Stanley Cup Playoffs: Wednesday, April 16