price-kesler-584

The Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks will be featured prominently on Hockey Night in Canada in the 2011-12 season. ((Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press))

The 59th season of Hockey Night in Canada on CBC shapes up to be the most exciting ever, with the addition of a seventh Canadian franchise in Winnipeg resulting in an abundance of riches for the hockey fan.

There will be 104 regular season clashes presented on HNIC over the course of the 2011-12 regular season, as well as the NHL All-Star Game from Ottawa.

All seven teams will be in action as part of the annual Hockey Day in Canada festivities, on Feb. 11. The celebration will be hosted from Prince Edward Island.

Canadian teams go head-to-head 29 times on the program. Fans can watch any game they want through the CBCSports.ca website, or if their television subscription incldues CBC channels in other regions.

There will be two pre-season broadcasts featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers to whet the appetite before the puck is dropped on the HNIC regular season schedule.

The inaugural Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of the new Winnipeg Jets takes place Sept. 26 against the Ottawa Senators in the Kraft Hockeyville preseason game from St. John's, Newfoundland.

Opening night on Thursday October 6 will include a doubleheader of the Leafs hosting the Montreal Canadiens, followed by Vancouver beginning its quest for another Stanley Cup Final berth against Pittsburgh.

Will Penguins captain Sidney Crosby be in the lineup? It is one of the biggest questions heading into the upcoming season.

The first Saturday regular season broadcast two nights later will see the Calgary Flames make their national season debut on HNIC. The Sens visit the Leafs to set up Calgary's home game against the Penguins.

If that weren't enough for a first week of action, the first regular season broadcast for the Jets takes place on Sunday October 9. Winnipeg hosts the Canadiens in a 4 p.m. CT start.

On Oct. 15 there will be coverage of five games featuring six Canadian teams, including the HNIC season regular debut of the Oilers, who host the Canucks.

The first tripleheader occurs on Oct. 29, with the Oilers and Rangers going at it in a 3 p.m. ET start. The evening games include the resumption of the heated Boston-Montreal rivalry, as well as exciting sniper Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning making a visit to Manitoba.

There is another tripleheader on Nov. 19, where the Winnipeg fans at the MTS Centre that afternoon that afternoon will be able to greet Philadelphia's new goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who earlier in the year said he didn't warm to the idea of possibly playing in the province.

Should Teemu Selanne return for another season, he will visit his first NHL home on Dec. 17. The Anaheim Ducks pay a visit to Winnipeg on that night.

With New Year's Eve falling on a Saturday, hockey fans will be treated to a doubleheader that ends with Vancouver visiting the new-look Los Angeles Kings.

CBC will once again present the NHL's Winter Classic, which takes place on Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The Flyers host Brad Richards and the New York Rangers in the 1 p.m. ET start.

Ottawa is host city for the 2012 NHL All-Star game, and Hockey Night will have the skills competitions on Jan. 28, and the game itself the following day.

The Habs continue their Super Bowl weekend tradition of matinee games, with dates against Washington and Winnipeg on Feb. 4-5.

The spectacular Hockey Day slate of game on Feb. 11 starts with the Jets in Pittsburgh and Oilers at Senators in the afternoon. The Canadiens visit Toronto, while the Canucks and Flames renew pleasantries at the Saddledome.

A special Thursday night broadcast occurs March 1 from the Bell Centre, with the Canadiens taking on the Minnesota Wild. The Habs also take part in a Friday night HNIC battle on the 16th of that month, facing the Sens in Ottawa.

The season broadcast schedule wraps up on Saturday April 7 with a tripleheader. Ottawa is in New Jersey, while the Leafs and Canadiens and Lightning-Jets are in the 7 p.m. ET slot. The Canucks and Oilers then finish off the night in what could be a critical game for the playoff standings.

As has been the case in the past couple of seasons, Montreal leads all Canadian teams in Hockey Night in Canada  appearances, with 28. The Jets are on the program on 22 occasions.

All told, an action-packed season to set up a playoff campaign that will see the Stanley Cup awarded on Hockey Night in Canada.