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Stars Open With Home and Home Against Blackhawks; Full Schedule Due Later Today

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As scintillating as a preseason game with Phoenix in a football stadium in Houston is to those of us within driving range (and a home game in Dallas less than 24 hours later with the Blues, what a hockey weekend!) is, the NHL will move onto the main course on Thursday and the Stars gave us a couple of teasers to whet our appetites.

First up on the schedule, after starting on a three-game East coast swing last year, the Dallas Stars will open at home against the hated Chicago Blackhawks and legions of Kane-loving zombies they bring to the American Airlines Center, only to turn around and play in the Windy City the night after, providing us with 50% of the seasons matchups with Chicago in a 48 hour period and one heck of a hockey weekend.

The only other confirmed detail is the traditional Dallas New Years Eve game, this time against the Boston Bruins, in what will surely be a spirited affair after Boston derailed the Stars this year in February with a brawl of a game that sent two players quite literally to the hospital.

The full schedule is due out at 1:00 p.m. on dallasstars.com. Also on it will be a trip to Winnipeg and another home game against Matt Niskanen and his Pittsburgh Penguins (see what I did there?).

Other topics for discussion this morning include Gary Bettman's radical new idea for realignment as reported by the Toronto Sun:

Sources say under Bettman's proposal, the league will have four divisions: Pacific, Midwest, East and South. It's believed the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets would both get their wish to move to the East conference.

Teams would play a balanced 82-game schedule with home-and-home against teams outside their division.

The top four teams in each division would make the playoffs. The first round would be divisonal play, the teams would then re-seed for conference play.

With 30 teams, one division in each conference will have eight squads while the other will have seven.

If the Wings and Jackets both go East, someone else must come West and there are no logical geographic solutions. Who could they mean? Would the Stars get stuck in the division with eight teams in the West? With Minnesota and Winnipeg in the mix would they travel any less than they do now? Interesting...

At the NHL Awards last night Loui Eriksson did not take home the Lady Byng. Martin St. Louis did, despite many predictions that Lidstrom would take that trophy home with him as a career award. Eriksson finished 3rd in the voting, well behind the other two. (St. Louis: 994 points, Lidstrom: 464 points, Eriksson: 347 points)

Stay tuned to DBD just after lunch today as the schedule comes down and we analyze each road trip, four day break and back to back and plan the next nine months of our lives around it.

Philadelphia continues trying to sign Ilya Bryzgalov, who evidently wants in excess of $7 million a season. Part of me is rooting for them to succeed and lock him up in the East forever, ridding us of his influence on the division. The other part of me sees the salary they'll have to move to get that done and laments whatever gains a Western Conference teams may reap in the aftermath.