NHL releases 2009-10 schedule; the Coyotes are on it

Huzzah! The NHL has released its 2009-10 regular season schedule, and the sound you just heard was thousands of puckheads scheduling their lives from October through next June.

And hey: The Phoenix Coyotes are on the schedule! With actual regular-season games! (Ed. Note: Since there's some confusion already: sarcasm, people. Sarcasm.)

Indeed, as Sean Leahy broke the news here earlier in the week, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will open the John Tavares era for the New York Islanders on Oct. 3, after hosting the New York Rangers on Oct. 2 for the banner raising. The Montreal Canadiens visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on opening night, Oct. 1. (Thank you, NHL.) Martin Havlat returns to Chicago on Mon Oct. 26.

Oh, and the Capitals are in Montreal on Nov. 28, which is the day rumored for that Olympic Stadium game.

Lepore has the breakdown of what he believes will be the NBC schedule next year, as Gary Bettman announced a two-year extension with the Peacock at the Winter Classic announcement today.

Other highlights, from NHL.com:


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In the second week, Hossa returns to Detroit on Oct. 8 while new Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger plays his only game of the year against his former Anaheim Ducks teammates.

November spotlights Detroit at Toronto in the Hockey Hall of Fame Game on Nov. 7 followed two nights later by HHOF induction ceremonies for Red Wings legend and current executive Steve Yzerman, Brian Leetch, Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull and Lou Lamoriello.

On Dec. 4, the Boston Bruins head up to Montreal to play the rival Canadiens on the 100th birthday of the storied franchise. Later in the month, new Habs coach -- and former Panthers GM Jacques Martin -- returns to Florida for the first time, then two days later, on Jan. 2, another Jacques, Lemaire this time, visits Minnesota, where he coached the Wild for nine seasons before taking the job in New Jersey this week. After an epic (and the word is not indulgently used) seven-game playoff series between Washington and Pittsburgh this past spring, the first 2009-10 meeting between Ovie and Sid is Jan. 21 at what figures to one rocking Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.

Team by team schedules can be found here. We'll have a full breakdown of the NHL regular-season schedule on Thursday morning, including the games we're most looking forward to.

So what does the schedule look like for your team? What game are you most looking forward to? And why do the Tampa Bay Lightning have 12 road games in December and January, when everyone would rather be visiting Tampa Bay?

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