Cup champion Canes open 2006-07 season on Oct. 4

Updated: July 12, 2006, 6:06 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The Carolina Hurricanes will kick off their defense of the Stanley Cup title Oct. 4, when the NHL begins the season with three games.

The Hurricanes will play the Buffalo Sabres -- the team they beat in the Eastern Conference finals -- at home on opening night, the league announced Wednesday.

The 1,230-game regular season will run until April 8, and the playoffs are slated to begin three nights later. The Stanley Cup finals will conclude by June 11, eight days earlier than Carolina's Game 7 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton will host the Hurricanes on Dec. 6 in the only rematch between this year's finalists.

For the second consecutive season, following the NHL lockout, each team will play four home games and four road games against divisional opponents -- totaling 32 contests. The clubs will also face the other 10 non-divisional teams in its conference four times, two at home and two away.

The final 10 games of the 82-game schedule will be comprised of interconference matchups. Teams will face one division in the opposite conference at home and another on the road. Like last season, there will be one out-of-conference division that won't be on the schedule for each club.

Southeast Division teams will visit Northeast teams and play at home against the Pacific; the Pacific will travel to the Southeast and host the Atlantic; and the Central will go to the Atlantic and welcome the Northeast.

From March 23 until the end of the regular season, NHL games will exclusively feature intraconference games to take full advantage of the playoff races.

Other schedule highlights include the NHL's first All-Star game since 2004, to be played on Jan. 23 in Dallas. The 2004-05 lockout forced the cancellation of that season's game, and the event was skipped this past winter because the league took time off to allow its players to participate in the Torino Olympics.

The All-Star break will run from Jan. 21-25 and will include the SuperSkills competition and YoungStars contest the night before the All-Star Games. For the first time since 1989, the midseason festivities will take place midweek instead of over a weekend.

The NHL returned last season with a full, 15-game slate on opening night. No day will be that busy this time around, but the league will feature 14 games six times -- including Oct. 7, the first Saturday of the season.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press