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NHL releases schedule; Canadiens, Leafs meet opening night

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TSN.ca Staff
7/15/2009 8:43:20 PM
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The home of the Boston Red Sox will finally host a National Hockey League game.

The NHL announced on Wednesday that the 2009-2010 regular season schedule would be highlighted by a matchup at Boston's Fenway Park between the Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 1.

"A unique event deserves a unique venue, and we are delighted the Bruins and Flyers will renew their rivalry with the 'Green Monster' providing the backdrop," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We welcome our fans, our teams, our sponsors and the great city of Boston to this annual celebration of our sport."

In what has recently become an annual event, the 2010 Winter Classic game marks the fourth time in five seasons that a regular season game has taken place in an outdoor venue.

The idea for a winter game began with the Heritage Classic in November 2003, when the Montreal Canadiens beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.

The first branded Winter Classic was held New Year's Day in 2008, at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a shootout in front of more than 71,000 fans.

Last January, the Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 at Wrigley Field.

The regular season gets underway on October 1 and four of Canada's six teams will be in action.  The Original Six rivalry of two new-look teams helps open the season when the Toronto Maple Leafs play host to the Montreal Canadiens.

Later on that night, the Flames and their improved defence that includes Jay Bouwmeester will play host to goaltender Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks.  Joe Sakic's number will also be retired by the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center that evening.

On October 3, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will be in Long Island where John Tavares should be making his home debut with the Islanders.

The Battle of Alberta also begins that night, with the Edmonton Oilers playing host to the Flames. 

The Bruins will play the Canadiens in Montreal on December 4, which is their 100th birthday.

Because of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, the Canucks will be starting a team record 14-game road trip that begins on January 30 in Toronto.  The NHL will suspend play during the games, meaning a layoff from February 15 until March 1.

The final game of the regular season will be played on Sunday, April 11.

Niklas Hagman and Ryan O'Byrne (Photo: Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
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