NHL schedule for 2016-17 condensed for World Cup, bye weeks

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The 2016-17 NHL schedule is jam-packed, thanks to a late start because of the World Cup and a bye week for each team.

Back-to-backs and stretches of three games in four days are more common than ever because of the condensed schedule. The season runs from Wednesday, Oct. 12, to Sunday, April 9, which at 180 days is almost a week shorter than 2015-16.

The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks each have 15 back-to-back sets. Pittsburgh also plays four games in seven days around the three-day Christmas break.

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Players on 29 of 30 teams will have at least five full days off from games and practices sometime in January or February. The Anaheim Ducks are off from Feb. 28-March 3.

The Players' Association negotiated the bye week as part of its agreement to allow the All-Star Game to become a 3-on-3 tournament. Players who don't attend typically go away for the All-Star break, but the bye week allows everyone some time off during the season.

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Teams having back-to-back sets at home have been extremely rare in past seasons, but are part of the next season's schedule because of time constraints.

Here are five notable items of the 2016-17 NHL schedule:

CROSBY VS. MCDAVID: Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin meet again Oct. 13 for Cup banner night. If Crosby and Connor McDavid are healthy, the two generational stars drafted 10 years apart will play against each other for the first time Nov. 8 at Consol Energy Center when the Penguins host the Edmonton Oilers.

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TAKE IT OUTSIDE: There are four outdoor games on the schedule, taking place in Winnipeg, Toronto, St. Louis and Pittsburgh. The Jets host the Oilers in the Heritage Classic Oct. 23, the Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings in the Centennial Classic Jan 1, the Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks in the Winter Classic Jan. 2 and the Penguins host the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stadium Series Feb. 25.

ALL-STAR GAME GOES HOLLYWOOD: All-Star weekend takes place in Los Angeles for the third time when the Kings host the skills competition and game on Jan. 28-29 at Staples Center. The next John Scott awaits.

• How the Penguins captured the 2016 Stanley Cup

TRADE DEADLINE: The trade deadline is Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. EDT, 40 days from the end of the regular season. It's the last chance for teams to make moves for the playoff run and also an opportunity to shed players before the expected expansion draft.

SO LONG, JOE: Detroit's Joe Louis Arena houses its final regular-season game April 9 when the Red Wings face the New Jersey Devils. If the Red Wings extend their streak of playoff appearances to 25 seasons, it won't be the final NHL game there.

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