CHICAGO — The Blackhawks began last season in Los Angeles, where they watched the Kings celebrate their 2012 Stanley Cup title.
Then Chicago won 5-2, setting the tone for their own championship run.
Now they seek another strong start, while Washington hopes to do what the Blackhawks did last season when the Capitals visit Chicago tonight.
"I felt the start of our season last year put us in the perfect spot for the whole season," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Monday. "It was that first period or the first win, but that seemed to just start it off on the right foot."
It's hard to imagine the Blackhawks starting better than last season, when they opened with at least one point in a record 24 straight games, half the season under the lockout-shortened schedule.
Blackhawks-Capitals is one of three games tonight as the NHL's 96th season of play begins. The Canadiens host the Maple Leafs at 7 and the Jets visit the Oilers at 10.
Hybrid icing in
TORONTO — Hybrid icing will be in effect for the start of the NHL regular season after it was approved by the players.
The NHLPA gave the go-ahead for the change that makes icing a race to an imaginary line across the faceoff dots instead of the puck, a system given a trial run in the preseason.
The goal is to prevent serious injuries, such as the one that sidelined Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen for the season. Pitkanen broke his left heel in eight places on an icing touch-up in April. A similar incident ended the career of Capitals forward Pat Peake.
"I think it's good. It kind of brings the race a little bit further away from the end boards," Maple Leafs wing James van Riemsdyk said.
Others expressed doubts.
"The normal reaction is right away 'Oh, we don't like it,' " Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "If the hybrid icing saves one injury this year, it's worth it."
Concussion talk: A month after scores of former football players got damages in a lawsuit against the NFL, might some NHL retirees soon do the same?
The crux of the NFL lawsuit was players, living with the miserable effects of dementia or other concussion-related health problems, accusing the NFL of concealing the long-term dangers of concussions.
That might not be the case with the NHL, but there is enough to draw a comparison.
"Medically and scientifically, the similarities are there," said Philadelphia lawyer Larry Coben, who filed the first concussion suit against the NFL. "Legally, there may be distinctions that are tougher and easier."