NHL schedules full slate of games for opening night

Updated: July 27, 2005, 8:05 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The NHL will return to the ice with the busiest night in the league's 88-year history.

Not wanting fans to have to wait one extra day to see their teams, the NHL has scheduled 15 games -- including all 30 clubs -- on opening night Oct. 5. Before the lockout that wiped out all of last season, the record for games in a day was 14, done nine times but not since 2003.

The schedule, released Wednesday, features more divisional games as teams will play their biggest rivals eight times instead of six.

Key dates from schedule
  • View complete regular-season schedule

  • Sidney Crosby is expected to open his NHL career with the Penguins in New Jersey against the Devils.

  • The defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning visit the Maple Leafs on Nov. 5 in the Hockey Hall of Fame Game. Two days later, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony will honor Cam Neely and the late Valeri Kharlamov in the Players Category and Murray Costello in the Builders Category.

  • "Hockey Day in Canada" tripleheader on Jan. 7 when Ottawa visits Montreal, Toronto is at Edmonton and Calgary travels to Vancouver.

  • Play will shut down Feb. 13 for the Olympic Games at Turin, Italy, resuming Feb. 28.

  • The regular season concludes April 18.

  • The Stanley Cup playoffs will begin April 21 and conclude no later than June 19.
  • There are 10 such matchups on opening night alone, including Pittsburgh at New Jersey. That should mark the NHL debut of teenage forward Sidney Crosby, expected to be drafted first overall Saturday by Pittsburgh.

    Other games on the league's first night include: Montreal at Boston in an "Original Six" matchup, Ottawa at Toronto, the New York Rangers at Philadelphia, and Carolina at Tampa Bay in which the Stanley Cup champion Lightning will raise a banner to the rafters.

    Florida will host Atlanta, St. Louis will be at Detroit, Edmonton welcomes Colorado, Calgary will travel to Minnesota, and Los Angeles visits Dallas.

    The NHL will take a hiatus from Feb. 13-27 so players can represent their countries at the Olympics in Turin, Italy. There will not be an All-Star weekend in years that include an Olympic break.

    The regular season will conclude on April 18 and the Stanley Cup playoffs will begin three nights later. The last possible date for Game 7 of the finals is June 19.

    Clubs will play 32 of their 82 games within the division. Teams will have four games against each of the other 10 conference foes plus 10 interconference games -- five at home against one division and five on the road against another division.

    Northeast Division teams will host the Pacific Division and visit the Northwest; Atlantic Division clubs will host the Northwest and go to the Central, and Southeast Division teams will host the Central and travel to the Pacific.

    Divisional assignments will rotate annually.

    Other schedule highlights include, Toronto at Tampa Bay, in the Nov. 5 Hall of Fame game, and a Canadian tripleheader on Jan. 7 when Ottawa visits Montreal, Toronto is at Edmonton and Calgary travels to Vancouver.

    Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press