NHL releases schedule after Olympic agreement

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NEW YORK (AP) — Now that the NHL knows for sure it will take a break for next year's Sochi Games, the league has released its long-awaited schedule that features realignment and a slew of new division names and rivals.

Shortly after the NHL said Friday it would send its players to the Olympics for the fifth straight time, it announced its regular-season slate. The season will be put on hold for 2½ weeks in February to accommodate the 2014 Games in Russia.

Opening night Oct. 1 will feature the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks hosting Washington. The regular season concludes April 13, with the playoffs beginning three days later.

The league's four new divisions will be called Metropolitan and Atlantic in the Eastern Conference, and Central and Pacific in the West. No teams in what was the Atlantic Division are in the new group of that name.

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