NHL releases schedule that includes Olympic break

July 19, 2013 at 8:53 PM
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NEW YORK, July 19 (UPI) -- The NHL announced its 2013-14 schedule Friday, one that includes a break for its players to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Season-opening games will be played Oct. 1 and six outdoor contests will be contested during the campaign.

The schedule was released after the league came to an agreement with the players that will allow their participation in the Olympics, which will be held in Sochi, Russia. The Olympic break will begin Feb. 9 and last for 17 days.

Defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago will host one of the three games on opening night. The Blackhawks will raise their championship banner prior to taking on Washington. Toronto will be at Montreal and Winnipeg will visit Edmonton in the other season-starting games.

The outdoor schedule will be highlighted by the NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day between Toronto and Detroit. It will take place at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

Two other outdoor contests will be held in New York's Yankee Stadium and one each will be played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Soldier Field in Chicago and BC Place in Vancouver.

The NHL will also alter its structure next season with the league being divided into four divisions:

-- Atlantic: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.

-- Metropolitan: New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey, Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Carolina and Columbus.

-- Central: Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Minnesota, Colorado, Dallas and Winnipeg.

-- Pacific: Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

The regular season will end April 13 and the playoffs will begin three days later.

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