Blackhawks open season seeing Stars

The NHL released its schedule for the 2011-12 regular season, which begins for the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 7 and 8 in a home-and-home series with the Dallas Stars.

The Hawks' second home game is October 13 against the newly relocated Winnipeg franchise. It will feature the initial return of ex-Hawks Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd to the United Center since they helped Chicago win the 2010 Stanley Cup.

That game is followed by a visit from the current Stanley Cup champions, the Boston Bruins, on Oct. 15.

Other highlights include a Nov. 6 matchup in Chicago with the Vancouver Canucks, who eliminated the Hawks in seven games in the 2011 playoffs.

The annual "circus trip" in November features six games in western Canada and southern California while the second half of the season begins with a nine-game road trip starting in western Canada then moving to southern California and finishing in the East.

The Hawks will take on their arch-rival Detroit Red Wings six times between December 30 and the end of the year, including the regular season finale in Michigan, on April 7. The Hawks will play 16 back-to-back sets of games in the 2011-2012 season.

Click here to see the league's schedule.