On Monday, the NHL decided to tease everyone and only release the home openers for every team (except the New Jersey Devils, whose home opener is a week after opening night). Tuesday brought the rest of the schedules, and the Blackhawks have another lively one.
One thing that will stand out on closer examination: every team now gets a bye week, a compromise the league and the NHLPA made in exchange for the 3 on 3 hockey we saw at last season’s All Star Game. As you’ll see in the following highlights I’ve found about this schedule, it makes a big difference.
- The season begins later this time. Thanks to the World Cup of Hockey, the Blackhawks won’t begin the season until October 12, which is their home opener against the St. Louis Blues. That’s also the league’s opening night. Wednesday Night Rivalry, indeed.
- Then there’s the bye week. The Blackhawks take theirs on February 12-17, right after the Disney Trip.
- Because of 1 and 2, the season is packed. Remember how compressed that shortened season was in 2013? This season doesn’t have much more breathing room. There are 14 back-to-back adventures this time.
- Teuvo comes back to town after the new year. Following the awkward trade of Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes, Blackhawks fans won’t have a chance to properly say goodbye until January 6, when the Canes come to United Center.
- Why do we have yet another outdoor game? This time, the Blues are the ones who demanded the Blackhawks as their opponents in the Winter Classic, like the Wild did for their Stadium Series game in February. At this point, I’m getting burned out on outdoor games.
Bonus: the Blackhawks will play at the Joe Louis Arena for the very last time on March 10 *sniffle*. I don’t expect any ban on octopi to be enforced in the new arena, which really should be named after Gordie Howe.
The new schedule is here, so add it to your calendars and plan away!