With no Major League Baseball being played today, the NHL has filled the sports news vacuum by announcing its 2009-10 regular season schedule.
And, here is this year's slate for the Blackhawks.
As most people already know, the Hawks are opening in Helsinki, Finland, this year with two games against Florida on Oct. 2-3. The first game in North America is Oct. 8 at Detroit. The home opener follows two nights later against Colorado.
The Hawks have their usual steady diet of home games early in the season, 12 out of 17 once they return to North America. Then, they have the traditional six-game road swing around Thanksgiving, all against opponents west of here.
The other lengthy road trip is in late January, an eight-gamer that will take the Hawks to both coasts -- San Jose one night, Carolina two nights later. Makes sense, huh? Every team in the NHL's Western Conference has to deal with at least one stupid road trip per season. The late January one is that stupid trip for the Hawks.
Eastern Conference teams visiting the United Center this year include: Montreal (10/30), Toronto (11/13), the N.Y. Rangers (12/9), Tampa Bay (12/13), Boston (12/18), New Jersey (12/31), Atlanta (2/13) and Washington (3/14). Sorry, no Sidney Crosby hysteria this year. The Hawks only meeting with the Penguins is at Pittsburgh on Dec. 5. But at least each of the four Original Six franchises in the East will be paying a visit to Chicago this year.
Let the countdown to Oct. 2 begin!