Winnipeg to mark return with season opener against Canadiens

TORONTO (Reuters) - Winnipeg may not have a name or a logo but the NHL's newest team has their first opponent as the league said on Thursday the Montreal Canadiens will provide the opposition for their home opener.

The NHL will return to the Manitoba capital after a 15-year absence when the yet-to-be-named team that relocated recently from Atlanta faces off against the Canadiens on October 9.

The 2011-12 NHL season will open October 6 when the Boston Bruins raise their first Stanley Cup championship banner to the rafters since 1972 before battling the Philadelphia Flyers.

Opening night will also feature an Original Six matchup with the Canadiens visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs while the Pittsburgh Penguins will hope to have concussed Sidney Crosby in the lineup when they open their season on the road against the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks.

The spotlight will shift across the Atlantic Ocean on October 7 with the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks opening their campaigns on European ice.

The Ducks will play the Sabres in Helsinki while the Rangers battle the Kings in Stockholm. The Sabres and Kings will bring the NHL's first regular season game to Berlin the next day when the Rangers also meet the Ducks in Stockholm.

The Hall of Fame game will be played in Toronto November 5 with the Maple Leafs battling the Bruins while the league will break from January 26-30 for the All-Star game in Ottawa.

The NHL did not confirm a date or teams for the outdoor Winter Classic but, according to media reports, the game will be moved to January 2 from its usual New Year's Day slot to avoid clashing with the final weekend of the NFL regular season.

The busiest day of the schedule will be April 7, the last day of the regular season, with all 30 teams in action.

(Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue)