After a pair of shortened seasons, the National Hockey League released a full 82-game schedule for all 32 teams starting in the fall.
The Winnipeg Jets will open the campaign on the road with a three-game trip. The Jets play their season opener against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, Oct. 14 in their first game against an American opponent in 19 months, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
It’ll be the same two teams in the Jets home opener a week later, with the Ducks to visit the newly named Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg on Oct. 21.
Fans awaiting the return of former Jets sniper Patrik Laine will have to wait until March. Laine, Jack Roslovic, and the Columbus Blue Jackets make their only visit to Winnipeg on March 25.
The Jets make their first-ever trip to Seattle on Dec. 9, while the expansion Kraken with former Jet Mason Appleton come to Winnipeg on Jan. 8 and April 13.
The Jets don’t have to face the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning until March.
The Jets’ longest homestand is a seven-gamer in early November. And after countless back-to-back matchups against the same team last season, they’ll only have one in the 2021-2022 season.
“From a hockey standpoint, I think the coaches liked it,” Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. “I think the players had some time for it. Obviously, it does get old in some respects when you have to do a whole entire season of it. So, I know that there was maybe a small appetite to have a little bit more of a trial in that situation. But schedule makers, I think, were under a tough type of situation here.”
“I think you’ve got teams that have multiple tenants. You’ve got concerts, again all the wonderful things that we’ve missed over this period of time. I do think that probably came into play when they tried to put it in practical use.”
The campaign doesn’t conclude until late April next season with a nearly three-week-long Olympic break built-in for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China even though the NHL hasn’t officially announced their players will be attending.
“It compresses things in a certain manner when you have those kinds of things,” said Cheveldayoff. “But we’ve just gone through a really compressed schedule and I think that it does get you back a little bit more to the traditional time where you can have off days and the like. Of course, it’s not perfect. There’s always things you’d like to change.”
The Jets will be off for the Olympics from Feb. 2-22. They wrap up the regular season with a three-game homestand, finishing on April 29 against the Calgary Flames.