Is this a preview of coming attractions?
The NHL released a composite schedule today for its 15-day, 105-game 2014 preseason, which opens on Sunday, September 21. Included among the 11 markets that will host neutral site games are three of the leading contenders to acquire an expansion club: Las Vegas, Quebec City and Kansas City.
Nothing too surprising about those choices. All three have proved to be excellent hosts in the past, and their interest in joining the fraternity makes giving them another chance to prove their viability an easy call.
Quebec City gets to revisit what used to be the NHL's best rivalry when the Nordiques/Avalanche meet the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 26. Vegas has the Colorado Avalanche vs. Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 4, and Kansas City hosts the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on Sept. 27.
Other minor markets hosting games include Bridgeport, Conn. (Boston Bruins vs. NY Islanders, Oct. 3); Brooklyn, N.Y. (New Jersey Devils vs. Islanders, Sept. 26); Colorado Springs (Avalanche vs. Kings, Oct. 2); London, Ont. (Philadelphia Flyers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, Sept. 22); St. John's, Newfoundland. (Islanders vs. Ottawa Senators split-squad doubleheader, Sept. 22); Saskatoon, Sask. (Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers, Sept. 28) and Stockton, Calif. (San Jose Sharks vs. Vancouver Canucks, Sept. 23).
This year's Kraft Hockeyville will take place in Sylvan Lake, Alta., on Wednesday, Sept. 24, when something in the neighborhood of 920 fans will be able to watch the Arizona Coyotes take on the Calgary Flames at the fabulous Sylvan Lake Multiplex. The paucity of seating makes for a tough ticket, but if folks can't get into the game they can always catch a showing of Guardians of the Galaxy.