Winnipeg NHL team hosts Habs in opener
Reports suggest team will announce name on Friday at entry draft
The NHL has announced the full regular-season schedule for all 30 teams and the as-yet-unnamed Winnipeg franchise plays its first home game against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 9.
It's the first home-opener since the city lost its former franchise, the Jets, after the 1995-96 season. The team moved to Phoenix and became the Coyotes.
The new Winnipeg franchise will play the Coyotes twice in the 2011-12 season. The first meeting is the third game of the season, Oct. 15 in Phoenix. The Coyotes visit the Manitoba capital on Dec. 1.
The Winnipeg team will face a rugged travel schedule in its first season. Because of the late timing of the relocation from Atlanta — a sale and move approved by the NHL board of governors this week — the club will remain in the southeast division of the eastern conference this season before an expected shift to the west next season.
That means Winnipeg will face division rivals Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington six times each and the other teams in the eastern conference four times.
The team wraps up its regular season schedule on Saturday, April 7, 2012, at the MTS Centre against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The pre-season schedule for Winnipeg was also released Thursday and features three games at home, starting with the Columbus Blue Jackets at the MTS Centre on Sept. 20.
The seven game pre-season also includes home games against the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators.
Winnipeg will also face the Ottawa Senators in Conception Bay South, N.L., as part of Kraft Hockeyville celebrations on Sept. 26.
There's still no word on what the team will be called, though several media reports have stated the name will be revealed Friday at the NHL draft in Minneapolis.
Scott Brown, spokesman for True North Sports & Entertainment Ltd., which owns the Winnipeg franchise, told CBC News he wouldn't comment on the accuracy of the reports.
General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has told media that, if the name is not yet announced when he makes the team's first draft choice, the player will be given a generic NHL sweater.
Winnipeg is slated to make the seventh pick in the first round.
Details about the draft, including live coverage, can be seen on the team's official website, launched earlier this week by True North.
It also contains detailed information about players on the current roster, history about the franchise's time in Atlanta, photo galleries, videos and press releases.