NEW YORK (AP) – The Anaheim Ducks will take the Stanley Cup back to its birthplace when they open the NHL’s 90th season and begin defense of their first championship in London against the rival Los Angeles Kings.
The two-game series highlights the 2007-08 schedule, released by the league Wednesday.
Anaheim, which became the NHL’s first West Coast champion by beating Ottawa in the finals in June, will show off the Cup in England on Sept. 29-30. The oldest trophy in North American sports was purchased at the Regent Street shop of silversmith G. R. Collis & Co. 115 years ago.
This matchup will be the first regular-season NHL games played in Europe. Each team will serve as the home club for one of the games.
Anaheim will then be part of traditional opening night when the Ducks visit fellow Western Conference finalist Detroit on Oct. 3 as part of a four-game slate. The Ducks will also serve as the home-opening opponent for Columbus on Oct. 5 and Pittsburgh the following night. They will play their first game as champions at the former Pond on Oct. 10 against Boston.
The first Saturday of the season, Oct. 6, will mark the busiest day on the schedule when 28 of the league’s 30 teams will be in action. Only Colorado and San Jose will sit out that day.
New Jersey will have to endure a nine-game road trip before opening the still- under construction Prudential Center in Newark on Oct. 27 against Eastern Conference champion Ottawa.
Teams will play each of their divisional rivals home and away during two periods of the season. The first is between Nov. 3-22 and the second will take place March 20 through the end of the regular season on April 6.
The Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 9, and Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals would be played by June 9. A rematch of this year’s championship series, won by the Ducks in five games, will be held March 3 when Ottawa returns to Anaheim.
Celebrating the upcoming induction of longtime captain Mark Messier, the New York Rangers will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the annual Hall of Fame game on Nov. 10. Messier, along with fellow players Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens, and builder Jim Gregory, will enter the Hall two nights later.
All-Star festivities return to the weekend – after one year as a midweek event – in Atlanta on Jan. 26-27. All-Star Saturday will feature the NHL YoungStars game and SuperSkills events. The 56th version of the midseason classic will follow the next day.
Atlanta had been scheduled to host All-Star events in 2005 but those were canceled during the yearlong NHL lockout.