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Who will the Predators play in the season opener?

Until the NHLPA ratifies the new collective bargaining agreement this weekend, NHL fans everywhere are forced to sit and wait. Of course, they’ve gotten so good at it lately what’s another few days, eh?

Louis Jean of TVA Sports in Montreal reported today that the league would not release the 2013 schedule until both sides have ratified the new CBA. The owners held up their end of the bargain today but the Player’s Association will vote on Friday and Saturday.

Shortly after an agreement was reached this past Sunday morning, it was being reported that the league wanted to kick off the 2013 season with a bang. After putting fans through three needless months of agony and anger via the lockout, there was talk that they wanted January 19 (the reported start to the season) to be a rival-filled night. Boston against Montreal! Los Angeles against Anaheim! Detroit against Nashville!

The NHL must have a different definition of the word “rivalry” than we do.

The Predators versus the Red Wings would be an amazing start to the season. The Wings are Nashville’s most hated rival, former fan favorite Jordin Tootoo turned heel, signing with Detroit in the off-season and there seemed to be a passing-of-the-torch feel to the Predators’ five-game series win over the Wings last April. But Detroit won’t be their opponent on opening night.

TWEET - redwings schedule

Alright, so how about the Minnesota Wild? Not really a rivalry, per se, but it would be All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter facing the team he mislead all last season only to bolt for the Wild on July 4, 2012. It would be one of the biggest stories of the league’s opening night. Shea Weber head-to-head against his old defense partner for the first time. But that’s not happening either.

TWEET - mnwild schedule

Okay fine. How about the Chicago Blackhawks? Not exactly a hated rival but they are a division opponent. Plus, the original schedule had Chicago in town on that date already so logic suggests they would just keep that the same. But no, they’ll be headed to Los Angeles instead..

TWEET - blackhawks schedule

Well then who? Who will the Predators face on opening night? We know it has to be a Western Conference team as the condensed schedule only allows for conference opponents this year. Will it be the Phoenix Coyotes? The NHL doesn’t consider them a rival just because they beat Nashville in the Western Conference Semifinals, do they? How about the Columbus Blue Jackets? Maybe being in the same division is enough to warrant the title “rival.” Or what about the Anaheim Ducks? They were just as hated as the Red Wings here in Music City for a short while but, without Tootoo to chirp at, an opener versus Ryan Getzlaf and company loses a little bit of its luster.

Based on reports, the following teams are possibilities:

Detroit Red Wings
Chicago Blackhawks
St. Louis Blues
Columbus Blue Jackets (read the update below)

Minnesota Wild
Edmonton Oilers
Calgary Flames
Vancouver Canucks
Colorado Avalanche

San Jose Sharks
Los Angeles Kings
Anaheim Ducks
Phoenix Coyotes
Dallas Stars

So, of the remaining teams, who do you want to see on opening night? Leave in the comments section below or tell us on Facebook!

UPDATE (6:20pm): As Patten Fuqua of points out, the Clippers have a home game scheduled for January 19. It’s not unheard of for the Staples Center to host double-header events of hockey and basketball but it is something to keep an eye on.

UPDATE (6:27pm): Per Blue Jackets beat writer (and all around great guy) Aaron Portzline, the Predators will play Columbus in Nashville on 1/19.


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