(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Hawks raise their Cup banner Oct. 7, the Bruins inflate, err, invade Gillette Stadium for the Winter Classic Jan. 1, and all 30 teams are in action to conclude the regular season April 9. Next season is already upon us
The NHL is on fire: Expansion, progressive rule changes, an epic draft, pending free agency, the anticipation of big trades…and next season’s schedule? Already?
Before sweaty-palmed teenagers even mount the stage and don a jersey and cap at the draft, fans of their teams know when and where all 82 games will be played in 2015-16. It’s the earliest release of a schedule in recent memory.
Here are some dates to circle for next season:
Oct. 7: Regular season opens with four contests, including the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks hosting the New York Rangers on what will be banner-raising night.
Oct. 9: The New York Islanders host the Hawks in their first game in their new home, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Jan. 1: The Canadiens travel to Foxboro, Mass., to face the Bruins in the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium. Boston becomes the first team to host two Winter Classics, having beaten the Flyers in 2010 at Fenway Park.
Jan. 31: The All-Star Game goes country in Nashville.
Feb. 21: The Minnesota Wild take on the Hawks at TCF Bank Stadium in the first of two Stadium Series games this season.
Feb. 27: The second Stadium Series game sees the Colorado Avalanche host the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field.
April 9: Regular season concludes with all 30 teams in action – another Super Saturday.
Click here for the entire schedule. Then sit back, watch the draft, prepare for July 1 and take a few weeks off before training camps open in September.