NEW YORK – The National Hockey League has announced its 2009-2010 schedule with a Nordic start.
After two years in Europe, the opening night will be held in North America with four games within the U.S. (Washington at Boston, San Jose at Colorado) and Canada (Montreal at Toronto, Vancouver at Calgary) on October 1.
The retirement of Joe Sakic’s number 19 by the Colorado Avalanche will precede the Colorado-San Jose game in Denver on the opening night.
For the third consecutive year, regular-season games will be played in Europe with the start of the season, on October 2 and 3. Stockholm will stage NHL games for the second consecutive season with the Detroit Red Wings and the St. Louis Blues facing each other twice. It will be a two-game return to their native country for Nicklas Lidström, Henrik Zetterberg and several other Swedes on both rosters.
For the first time, NHL games will be held in Helsinki where the Chicago Blackhawks and the Florida Panthers will have two games. Prior to their season opener in Finland, the Blackhawks will also play the 2009 Victoria Cup
against European club champions ZSC Lions in Zurich on September 29 and an exhibition game against the Swiss champions HC Davos the day before at the same venue.
Back in North America on October 2, the Pittsburgh Penguins will raise their 2009 Stanley Cup championship banner to the Mellon Arena roof before taking on the New York Rangers in the season opener for both clubs. The next night, all 30 NHL teams will be in action in a full slate of 15 games.
This year’s open-air game NHL Winter Classic on January 1 will be hosted by the Boston Bruins when they will play the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park.
The NHL will have a break during the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver (Feb. 16-28) and the 1,230-game regular season concludes on April 11, three days before the beginning of the Stanley Cup playoffs.