June 22, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Sunday's NHL roundup: Toronto, Montreal kick off season

The Canadiens open against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre Oct. 8. (Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto / Getty Images)

The Maple Leafs and Canadiens will once again kick off the NHL season.

The league released its official schedule today and the Original Six rivals will face off at Air Canada Centre in the earliest of the four games scheduled for opening night on Oct. 8.

It will be the sixth straight season Montreal and Toronto have met on opening night.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings are also in action Oct. 8.

They host the Sharks, the team they beat in the first round of last year's playoffs after coming back from a 3-0 series deficit.

The other games on opening night see Vancouver visit Calgary and Boston welcome Philadelphia.

The league also announced that the Capitals will host the Blackhawks in the outdoor 2015 Winter Classic on New Year's Day.

Trotz returns to Nashville

Former Predators coach Barry Trotz will return to Nashville to face his former team for the first time Jan. 16 when the Washington Capitals visit Bridgestone Arena.

Trotz was the only coach in Predators franchise history before being fired at the end of last season. He was hired as the Capitals’ coach in May. The Capitals visit Nashville on Jan. 16 and host the Predators on March 28.

Panthers hire Gallant

Gerard Gallant and Jonathan Huberdeau had a wildly successful coach-player relationship at the top level of junior hockey.

The Panthers hope they will again in the NHL.

Gallant, a former Red Wing, was hired Saturday to coach the Panthers, a move that reunites him with Huberdeau, a young forward who is considered one of the franchise’s biggest keys to rebuilding. Gallant replaces Peter Horachek, who had the interim title for most of last season after replacing Kevin Dineen. The Panthers told Horachek in late April that he would not be retained.

Weeks later, they settled on Gallant.

“He is an individual with tremendous character, integrity and a strong passion for the game and has experience as an NHL head coach,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said in a release distributed by the team.

“Gerard is an excellent teacher and motivator who possesses the leadership qualities and hockey knowledge that are necessary to lead our team.”

Gallant will be formally introduced by the Panthers today.

He spent parts of three seasons as the head coach in Columbus before being fired in November 2006 and has been an NHL assistant with the Blue Jackets, the Islanders and the Canadiens, for whom he worked the past two years.

Hall verdict comes Monday

Former Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek is expected to head this year’s class of the Hockey Hall of Fame, which will be announced Monday.

Swedish center Peter Forsberg could also get the call to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Mike Modano (Westland), who played briefly for the Wings, and Mark Recchi are other first-year candidates.

Former coach Pat Burns remains a candidate in the “builder” category, a year after Fred Shero was posthumously elected 38 years after leading the Flyers to back-to-back Cups. Burns, a three-time Jack Adams Award winner as coach of the year, died in November 2010 at the age of 58.

Season highlights

Oct. 8: Opening night. Four games, highlighted by Montreal at Toronto and San Jose at Los Angeles

Oct. 9: Red Wings opener, at home against Boston

Oct. 11: All 30 teams play

Dec. 31: Red Wings host Devils on New Year’s Eve

Jan. 1: Capitals host Blackhawks in Winter Classic

Jan. 8: Kings host Rangers in Stanley Cup Finals rematch

April 11: Last day of regular season, all 30 teams play