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Things to watch for in 2010-11

Dion Phaneuf was named Toronto's captain, the first since Mats Sundin left town. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

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Dion Phaneuf was named Toronto's captain, the first since Mats Sundin left town. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Another new season is fast approaching, but like a snowflake or a grinder’s nose, each campaign is different and special in its own way. From THN’s season-opening issue we present you with a quick rundown of some of the fresh storylines and happenings to follow for 2010-11.

10. New salary cap

The ceiling is now $59.4 million, while the floor rises to $43.4 million as the salary cap continues its five-season ascent.

9. New classics

Outdoor games have been an unqualified success for the NHL, so why not play two this year? The Heritage Classic brings the open concept back to Canada as Calgary hosts Montreal Feb. 20 at McMahon Stadium, while Pittsburgh takes on their archrivals from Washington New Year’s Day at Heinz Field. Needless to say, there will be special jerseys there, too.

8. New All-Star Game

After an Olympic layoff year, the mid-season show is back, with the Carolina Hurricanes playing host on Jan. 30. No word yet on whether the corporate boxes will feature pulled pork.

7. New arena

Pittsburgh moves into the swanky Consol Energy Center, while the Islanders gaze upon it longingly.

6. New jerseys

Toronto and the New York Islanders revealed new duds this summer, while Anaheim is closely guarding its new third sweater, to be revealed in late November. Vancouver and Buffalo celebrate their 40th anniversaries with new gear, while Columbus and the New York Rangers also have new third jerseys coming down the pipeline. Also, look out for a purple and gold throwback from the L.A. Kings and a change in Nashville.

5. New GMs

Further up the ladder, Dale Tallon takes over the perpetually rebuilding Florida Panthers, while fellow Blackhawks alum Rick Dudley saddles up in Atlanta. But the Southeast team with the biggest buzz is Tampa Bay, which enlisted the services of prized hockey mind Steve Yzerman.

4. New coaches

Guy Boucher steps behind the bench in Tampa, Craig Ramsay heads to Atlanta, Scott Arniel is in Columbus, John MacLean steps up in New Jersey, plus Tom Renney takes over Edmonton from the “promoted” Pat Quinn.

3. New contract years

It’s a big season for restricted free agents, with a class led by Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty and Zach Parise. The UFAs don’t take a backseat, however, with Zdeno Chara, Joe Thornton and Alexander Semin potentially hitting the free market in the summer of 2011.

2. New saviors

After becoming the pride of Montreal, goaltender Jaroslav Halak takes his talents down to St. Louis and the burgeoning Blues. Stanley Cup-winner Antti Niemi returns to the Shark Tank, but he’ll be helping – not tormenting – the Sharks this time around. Marty Turco takes over in Chicago’s net and with Jose Theodore out in Washington, Semyon Varlamov gets his first true crack at No. 1.

1. New captains

Shea Weber dons the ‘C’ in Nashville, while Dion Phaneuf gets ready for the pressure cooker in Toronto.

 

The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.

If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 5, and other great features from the world of hockey.

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