Red Wings get more Original Six, Saturday dates for next season
BY GEORGE SIPPLE • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • July 18, 2008
More games against Original Six foes. More games against Eastern Conference teams. More games on Saturday nights.
Not to mention an outdoor game Jan. 1 at Wrigley Field, Chicago.
Those are the highlights of the Red Wings' 2008-09 regular-season schedule released Thursday.
The Wings will host 13 Friday night or Saturday night games this season, compared with 11 last season, primarily because the number of Saturday night games jump from four to eight.
"We wanted some more Friday and Saturday games," said Steve Violetta, senior vice president of business affairs. "If you look at the research, Fridays and Saturday are either 1-2 or 2-1" among favorite days of the week for fans to come to games.
The first Saturday night home game is at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 against the New York Rangers.
Violetta said he was "pretty excited" about the way the schedule fell, with the Original Six games filling key days and having the Toronto Maple Leafs in town to start the season.
The Wings will unveil their Stanley Cup championship banner Oct. 9 against the Leafs. Game time has been changed from 7 to 8 p.m., which likely means the NHL will spotlight the game on television across the United States and Canada. (The TV schedule hasn't been released.)
The Wings will play every Eastern Conference team at least once and have home-and-home meetings against three of them -- the Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Atlanta Thrashers. Last season the Wings didn't play Atlantic Division teams and played other East teams once.
The Winter Classic 2009, announced Wednesday, will be played at 1 p.m. New Year's Day, when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Wings at Wrigley Field.
The Wings' final home game will be against the Blackhawks at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 11. They close out the regular season the next afternoon at Chicago.
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