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LEAGUE OPENS WITH STABLE SITUATION

Times wires

No lockout to shorten the season. No Olympics to condense the schedule. No major rule changes or alterations to a playoff format that introduced wild-card races last season.

With the NHL enjoying prosperity on many fronts, the season begins today amid a rare sense of stability.

Opening night of the league's 98th season will feature the Kings raising their Stanley Cup banner at home before facing the rival Sharks, one of four games on the schedule today.

The NHL bounced back well from the 2012-13 lockout. League revenues last season hit about $3.7 billion and the salary cap is $69 million, a new high. The league is enjoying a boom and, for now, executives seem content to leave well enough alone.

"The league is coming off what many consider and have characterized as its best season ever, both on the ice and off," deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Los Angeles Times. "We are in a good place right now. But the really exciting part is that we all believe it can get even better."

NBCSN opens with a doubleheader tonight, the Kings-Sharks game serving as the nightcap after the Flyers visit the Bruins (7:30).

Penguins: Forward Evgeni Malkin said he's 50-50 for Thursday's opener against the Ducks. Malkin, who sat out the preseason with an undisclosed injury, practiced Tuesday for the first time.

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