With no lockout in sight, the 2013-14 NHL regular season is set to begin on time next fall, much to the delight of hockey fans everywhere.
The league announced the schedule for the upcoming season on Friday, according to CBS Sports hockey writer Adam Gretz. The regular season will begin on Oct. 1 and continue through April 13, with the postseason starting three days later on April 16.
Keep in mind that this will be the first season under the new alignment. The Eastern and Western Conferences will each consist of two divisions as opposed to three. The East will feature two eight-team divisions, while the West will consist of two seven-team divisions.
In addition to the new divisional rivalries, hockey fans will have to get used to seeing Detroit and Columbus in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, Winnipeg will make the jump from East to West.
While the new season is still months away, at least we now know when and where all 30 teams will be on display in 2013-14. Let's take a closer look at the key dates for fans to remember.
Oct. 1, 2013: Blackhawks and Capitals Kick Off New Season
According to ESPN.com, the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks will kick off the new season against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 1. The matchup will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m. ET.
It should be noted that these teams have not met since March 2012. The Blackhawks won that game 5-2 at home.
Four other teams will be in action on opening night as well. Toronto will play at Montreal, and Winnipeg and Edmonton will square off in the nightcap out west.
The rest of the league's teams will begin their seasons in the days after, warming up fans for the six-and-a-half-month regular-season ride.
Feb. 9-26, 2014: Midseason Break for Winter Olympics
The NHL will take more than two weeks off in mid-February of next year so that many of the league's superstars can represent their countries at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, according to Gretz.
According to ESPN.com, the league and the players recently reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation to pause the season so that the planet's top players can compete in the Winter Games without missing any regular-season action.
The 2014 Winter Olympics are scheduled to run from Feb. 7 through Feb. 23.
April 16, 2014: Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin
Without question, the most exciting date on the 2013-14 NHL schedule is April 16, when the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs will officially begin.
The regular season will conclude on April 13, and if you're wondering, April 16 is a Wednesday.
What many consider hockey's second season, the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are unlike any other postseason in sports. The two-month journey to crown a champion features four incredible rounds and never fails to entertain and amaze.
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