It’s June 23, so that clearly means we’re ready to talk about the upcoming NHL season!

The NHL released the 2011-2012 schedule today and the first day of next season will be Thursday October 6.

Three games will take place that night. The Montreal Canadiens will renew their rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, the Pittsburgh Penguins will head to Vancouver to play the Canucks and the Boston Bruins will raise their Stanley Cup banner in front of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Team-by-team schedules are available at this link. Clicking on the snazzy NHL shield brings up Winnipeg’s schedule.

The “Winnipeg NHL,” as they’re listed on the site, will play their first game at home on October 9, when the Montreal Canadiens visit the MTS Centre. We think the Winnipeg team may have a name by then.

An interesting note is that the Phoenix Coyotes will play their home opener against Winnipeg. We think it would have been significantly cooler to have the Winnipeg Not-Thrashers play their home opener against Phoenix instead. That game eventually happens on December 1.

Another note is that the first and only game between the two teams that used to play in Atlanta is on March 9, when Winnipeg visits Calgary.

Thankfully, it looks like the league has avoided scheduling any of the insane home-and-home series between Winnipeg and other Southeast Division teams that we were all worried about.

However, Winnipeg is left out of Hockey Day In Canada on February 11. With seven Canadian teams, someone had to be excluded and it’s Canada’s newest team. On that day Vancouver plays in Calgary, Montreal plays in Toronto and Edmonton visits Ottawa.

The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks meet in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday, January 7, 2012. The game is in Boston, so we already know who’s going to win.

Other highlights include what looks to be the Winter Classic on Monday January 2, 2012 when the New York Rangers visit Philadelphia and the final day of the season where all 30 teams are in action (April 7, 2012.)

Speaking of the Rangers, they start their season on October 7 in Stockholm, Sweden against the Los Angeles Kings and they don’t play their first home game until October 27. This is due to renovations at Madison Square Garden. They then have a six-game homestand to make up for it.

The ever-exciting All-Star Break is from January 26-30, 2012. The NHL’s television schedule will be released in August.