Thursday, 23 June 2011

Winnipeg's NHL Nights

The NHL released the full slate of games today, and that means we get to see when and where the new Winnipeg team will be playing all season long. The Winnipeg NHLers reportedly also have a coach, and I'll have a short blurb about that below the schedule, but there is no doubt that the first few weeks at MTS Centre will be pretty incredible. If you're a season-ticket holder, you might be a little disappointed at the number of road games in October, but that only means that the Winnipeg franchise will have more home dates as they push for the playoffs down the stretch.

October 9, 2011 will officially see the Winnipeg NHLers open the regular season, and they will welcome the storied Montreal Canadiens to town. Carey Price, Mike Cammalleri, Scott Gomez, and Brian Gionta will be here for the first NHL game in Winnipeg in nearly sixteen years, and I'm almost certain that the number of Winnipeg fans will certainly outnumber the Montreal fans in the crowd. If the "Phone Booth" isn't rocking that night, I'm not sure what kind of fire needs to be lit in Winnipeg.

Here's the Winnipeg schedule with a few comments of my own. Just as a note, the team has not officially been named as "Winnipeg". I'm simply going with that because of how they are listed on the site. Home games are in yellow while road games appear in white.

  • Sunday, October 9 vs. Montreal (5PM ET). While no TV coverage has been announced, I can't see any of the major Canadian networks passing up a dream broadcast like this. Montreal visiting the packed MTS Centre for Winnipeg's first game? Dreams are made of broadcasts like this.
  • Thursday, October 13 @ Chicago (8:30PM ET). Nothing like an old Central Division match-up that will feature Chicago's Jonathan Toews playing his first game against his hometown team.
  • Saturday, October 15 @ Phoenix (7PM ET). Winnipeg's old team versus Winnipeg's new team. This game could be very interesting for a number of reasons.
  • Monday, October 17 vs. Pittsburgh (8:30PM ET). Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Kris Letang hit the ice at MTS Centre. This should be another incredible night at the "Phone Booth".
  • Wednesday, October 19 @ Toronto (7:30PM ET). I'm going to go on record here and say that TSN's hockey coverage will have this game as the featured game that night.
  • Thursday, October 20 @ Ottawa (7:30PM ET). Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza host the Winnipeg franchise. Winnipeg always seemed to struggle against the Senators as the Jets - can they change that trend in their new incarnation?
  • Saturday, October 22 vs. Carolina (7PM ET). The first divisional game is against Carolina at home. Eric Staal and Cam Ward should make for worthy opponents in Winnipeg's third home game of the season. Could this be a Hockey Night In Canada early game?
  • Monday, October 24 vs. NY Rangers (8:30PM ET). Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, and the Rangers invade MTS Centre. The Winnipeg franchise gets a double-dose of Staal as Eric plays in Saturday's game while Marc plays with the Rangers.
  • Thursday, October 27 @ Philadelphia (7PM ET). Winnipeg starts their seven-game roadtrip against the Flyers. If Winnipeg wants to contend in the East, they have prove they can play against teams like the Flyers.
  • Saturday, October 29 @ Tampa Bay (7PM ET). Winnipeg's first visit to Florida in a long while has them playing one of the Eastern Conference finalists.
  • Monday, October 31 @ Florida (7:30PM ET). The new-look Panthers in red jerseys will play the new-look Winnipeg team in whatever colour they choose on Halloween. New team, new costumes, best Halloween ever?
  • Thursday, November 3 @ NY Islanders (7PM ET).
  • Saturday, November 5 @ New Jersey (7PM ET).
  • Sunday, November 6 @ NY Rangers (7PM ET).
  • Tuesday, November 8 @ Buffalo (7PM ET).
  • Thursday, November 10 vs. Florida (8:30PM ET). Stephen Weiss and Dmitry Kulikov lead the Panthers into Winnipeg for the first time in their professional careers.
  • Saturday, November 12 @ Columbus (7PM ET).
  • Monday, November 14 vs. Tampa Bay (8:30PM ET). Three weeks between home games? The fans in Winnipeg will be ravenous when TeeBay rolls into town. We will have a great welcome for Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Dwayne Roloson!
  • Thursday, November 17 vs. Washington (8:30PM ET). Ovechkin, Semin, Green, Backstrom and the Capitals make their first visit to MTS Centre. Tickets for this one will be gone in a matter of seconds.
  • Saturday, November 19 vs. Philadelphia (3PM ET). The first afternoon game at MTS Centre, and the end of a tough three-game home stand. With Bryzgalov signing with Philly, I'd hope that everyone remembers what he said about Winnipeg as a city.
  • Wednesday, November 23 @ Washington (7PM ET).
  • Friday, November 25 @ Carolina (7PM ET).
  • Saturday, November 26 @ Boston (7PM ET). Winnipeg meets the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins for their first meeting of the season.
  • Tuesday, November 29 vs. Ottawa (8:30PM ET). The Senators make their second regular-season visit to Winnipeg early in the season.
  • Thursday, December 1 vs. Phoenix (8:30PM ET). The former Jets franchise returns to Winnipeg for the first regular-season game in their history. Phoenix should get a "warm" welcome on this night. Shane Doan returns as a member of the Coyotes!
  • Saturday, December 3 vs. New Jersey (7PM ET). Ilya Kovalchuk and Martin Brodeur make their first regular-season visit to Winnipeg. Travis Zajac will get to play in front of friends and family on this night.
  • Tuesday, December 6 vs. Boston (8:30PM ET). The Stanley Cup Champions visit Winnipeg. Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara will help to sell this game out quickly. I'll have to "convince" Dad to go to this game.
  • Friday, December 9 vs. Carolina (8:30PM ET). This is the second game of the three games that Carolina will play in Winnipeg this season.
  • Saturday, December 10 @ Detroit (7PM ET).
  • Tuesday, December 13 vs. Minnesota (8:30PM ET). The Wild make their first visit to Winnipeg in franchise history for a regular-season game.
  • Thursday, December 15 vs. Washington (8:30PM ET). Another Washington game, another guaranteed sell-out.
  • Saturday, December 17 vs. Anaheim (7PM ET). Could this be another HNIC game because of the start time? Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Jonas Hiller make their first visits as professionals to Winnipeg.
  • Tuesday, December 20 vs. NY Islanders (8:30PM ET). Michael Grabner returns to MTS Centre for his first game since being a member of the Manitoba Moose.
  • Thursday, December 22 vs. Montreal (8:30PM ET). Merry Christmas, Winnipeg! The Habs roll through town just before the merriest of holidays hits the calendar!
  • Friday, December 23 vs. Pittsburgh (8:30PM ET). Merry Christmas, Winnipeg! Another game featuring Crosby and the Penguins right before the Christmas break!
  • Tuesday, December 27 @ Colorado (9PM ET).
  • Thursday, December 29 vs. Los Angeles (8:30PM ET). My brother will be ecstatic as his favorite team visits MTS Centre for a night with the Winnipeg franchise. Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, and Dustin Brown will visit Winnipeg for the first time in their professional careers!
  • Saturday, December 31 vs. Toronto (7PM ET). We're almost guaranteed that this will be the HNIC early game. Toronto fans usually filled the old Winnipeg Arena to see the Leafs play. I suspect there may be more Winnipeg fans this time.
  • Wednesday, January 4 @ Montreal (7:30PM ET).
  • Thursday, January 5 @ Toronto (7PM ET).
  • Saturday, January 7 @ Buffalo (7PM ET).
  • Tuesday, January 10 @ Boston (7PM ET).
  • Thursday, January 12 vs. San Jose (8:30PM ET). Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and the San Jose Sharks invade the waters of MTS Centre for the first time this season.
  • Saturday, January 14 vs. New Jersey (7PM ET).
  • Monday, January 16 @ Ottawa (7:30PM ET).
  • Tuesday, January 17 @ New Jersey (7PM ET).
  • Thursday, January 19 vs. Buffalo (8:30PM ET). Thomas Vanek, Tyler Myers, and Ryan Miller play their first game in MTS Centre as the Sabres roll into town.
  • Saturday, January 21 vs. Florida (8PM ET).
  • Monday, January 23 @ Carolina (7PM ET). This game marks the start of an extended six-game roadtrip, and eight of the next nine games are played on the road.
  • Tuesday, January 24 @ NY Rangers (7PM ET). This appears to be the last game before the NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa.
  • Tuesday, January 31 @ Philadelphia (7PM ET).
  • Thursday, February 2 @ Tampa Bay (7:30PM ET).
  • Friday, February 3 @ Florida (7:30PM ET).
  • Sunday, February 5 @ Montreal (2PM ET). Another rare afternoon game for the Winnipeg franchise.
  • Tuesday, February 7 vs. Toronto (8:30PM ET). Another Toronto game should bring another solid crowd out for both the Leafs and Winnipeg franchise.
  • Thursday, February 9 @ Washington (7PM ET).
  • Friday, February 10 @ Pittsburgh (7PM ET).
  • Tuesday, February 14 vs. NY Islanders (8:30PM ET). Happy Valentine's Day!
  • Thursday, February 16 @ Minnesota (8PM ET).
  • Friday, February 17 vs. Boston (8:30PM ET). Can I take Dad to see his favorite team twice in one season? It appears I can!
  • Sunday, February 19 vs. Colorado (8:30PM ET). Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, and the Avalanche make their way to Winnipeg for a game.
  • Tuesday, February 21 vs. Philadelphia (8:30PM ET). Daniel Briere, Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, and Kimmo Timonen play their second game in Winnipeg this season. Make sure Ilya Bryzgalov gets an earful again!
  • Thursday, February 23 vs. Tampa Bay (8:30PM ET). These late-season divisional games could mean the difference between attending playoff games and watching them on TV. Let's make sure we make it hard on our opposition!
  • Saturday, February 25 vs. St. Louis (2PM ET). An afternoon game at MTS Centre, and Alex Steen gets to visit his father, Thomas Steen, back in Winnipeg!
  • Monday, February 27 vs. Edmonton (8:30PM ET). The former Smythe Division rivals meet for the first time. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson should be on MTS Centre ice for the Oilers in the two teams' only meeting this year. Rogers' Sportsnet may have this game on the tube.
  • Thursday, March 1 vs. Florida (8:30PM ET). Florida plays in Winnipeg for the second time this season, and these divisional games are vitally important at this point in the season.
  • Monday, March 5 vs. Buffalo (8:30PM ET). The Sabres make their second and final trip to MTS Centre this season.
  • Thursday, March 8 @ Vancouver (10PM ET). The city that housed Vancouver's former AHL franchise visits Rogers Arena as an NHL franchise. The former Smythe Division rivals meet for the only time this season.
  • Friday, March 9 @ Calgary (9PM ET). If Rogers' Sportnet continues to cover the Oilers and Flames as well as they did last season, this game will surely be on TV. This is the only meeting between these two Smythe Division rivals this season as well.
  • Wednesday, March 14 vs. Dallas (8:30PM ET). Brendan Morrow, Alex Goligoski, and Jamie Langenbrunner make their way to Winnipeg as the Stars visit MTS Centre in the two teams' only meeting this season.
  • Friday, March 16 vs. Washington (8:30PM ET). Washington's final visit to MTS Centre this season will see Ovechkin and company in a divisional battle with Winnipeg.
  • Sunday, March 18 vs. Carolina (8:30PM ET). Carolina's final visit to MTS Centre is also a divisional battle. Winnipeg needs these points if they are still in the playoff race.
  • Tuesday, March 20 @ Pittsburgh (7PM ET).
  • Friday, March 23 @ Washington (7PM ET).
  • Saturday, March 24 @ Nashville (7PM ET). Nashville and Winnipeg meet for the only time this season in Music City.
  • Monday, March 26 vs. Ottawa (8:30PM ET). Ottawa visits one last time as the season winds down.
  • Wednesday, March 28 vs. NY Rangers (7PM ET). Strangely, this game starts at 6pm locally. Could this be another TSN game?
  • Friday, March 30 @ Carolina (7PM ET).
  • Saturday, March 31 @ Tampa Bay (7PM ET).
  • Tuesday, April 3 @ Florida (7:30PM ET).
  • Thursday, April 5 @ NY Islanders (7PM ET).
  • Saturday, April 7 vs. Tampa Bay (7PM ET). The final home game in Winnipeg's first season back in the NHL is against the Lightning. Will this be the last game this season for Winnipeg, or could there be a playoff berth awaiting them after this game?
So there is your full schedule for the Winnipeg NHL franchise this season. There are a lot of great games on the schedule, and MTS Centre should be packed all season long. That leaves a few questions: what will the team be called, what will the logo and jerseys look like, and who will coach the team?

Well, the last question is easy to answer. Reports out of Winnipeg today have former Moose and Blue Jackets coach Claude Noel taking the reins behind the bench of the new Winnipeg franchise. Honestly, I'm good with the choice of Noel as he was very effective last season in working with the younger Moose players, and his system - when played - works well. In 24 games as the interim coach of the Blue Jackets, Noel has a 10-8-6 record - not overly impressive, but very good considering the personnel on the Blue Jackets two seasons ago.

With Noel at the helm and the schedule now out, the Winnipeg franchise is beginning to move forward. Word out of Minnesota is that the Winnipeg NHLers that are drafted will be given a generic black jersey with the NHL shield on it as we await the first looks at what the franchise will be called and what they will be wearing.

If you noticed above, there was a name that seemed slightly out of place. There were a few major trades today, and HBIC will look at those in a separate entry later today. For now, there are your updates for the Winnipeg franchise as they prepare for their first season on MTS Centre ice!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Peter said...

After Winnipeg announces it's name today, will you update the logos underneath your banner?

Considering Buf., LA, Nash, Ott, SJ,TB & Wash all have updated logos?

Teebz said...

I have considered it, Peter, but it represents the NHL's period when HBIC got its start. I was thinking about making wholesale changes upon my fifth anniversary, though. :o)