The wait for training camp
The gap between Labour Day and the official opening of NHL training camps is almost three full weeks this year, the longest in recent memory — and there are a couple of reasons for it, beyond the fact the holiday falls so early this year.
For starters, NHL training camps were reduced from 27 days to 20 days as part of the league's last collective bargaining agreement.
For everyone else, training camp starts a week from Friday or Saturday, Sept. 19 and 20.
Twenty days may seem like a long time for teams to gear up for the season, but once you factor in five to 10 preseason games, there really isn't going to be much downtime. Consider also all of the strange journeys NHL clubs will take in exhibition and we may have some weary souls on our hands come puckdrop on Oct. 4.
One of the real quirks of the NHL heading to Europe this time around will be the fact that preseason games will be taking part after the regular season has started. When games get underway in Prague and Stockholm on the afternoon of Oct. 4, for instance, there's a slate of six exhibition games taking place later that night.
There are then eight more preseason matchups scheduled on the Sunday and one final exhibition game between the Islanders and Panthers on Monday, Oct. 6.
Three days later, the North American portion of the schedule begins on a Thursday night in Detroit, Denver, San Jose and Vancouver.
In all, there will be 110 preseason games, including five in European cities against local club teams from the German, Swiss, Finnish, Swedish and Russian leagues.