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NHL NOTEBOOK

Familiar foes for opener

Canadiens first in season of rivalries

There will be plenty that's new when the National Hockey League opens the 2005-06 season Oct. 5 -- with all 30 teams in action that night -- in terms of personnel adjusted to fit under the $39 million salary cap, rule changes designed to open up the game, and different schedules, too.

Yesterday, the Bruins unveiled their regular-season schedule, with league-mandated emphasis placed on division rivalries. The Bruins will open at home against the Montreal Canadiens before embarking on a six-game trip that will take them to Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Florida, and Ottawa, and end Oct. 18 with a rematch against the Habs in Montreal.

Boston will take on Northeast Division foes Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto eight times each (four at home) and will face the teams in the two other divisions in the Eastern Conference (Southeast and Atlantic) four times each (two at home). The other 10 games will be played against Western Conference teams, facing the Northwest Division on the road and hosting clubs from the Pacific Division. The Bruins won't play the Central Division (including Original Six teams Chicago and Detroit) this season.

In addition, the Bruins will play eight exhibition games (not including the annual Black and Gold scrimmage, scheduled for Sept. 16 at Boston University's Agganis Arena). They will face the Islanders in Boston and Manchester, N.H., the Rangers in Boston and New York, the Canadiens in Montreal and Moncton, New Brunswick, and the Maple Leafs (site TBA) and Penguins (at Wilkes-Barre, Pa.).

Drug policy criticized

The drug policy in the NHL's new labor deal was criticized for ''loopholes" and ''inadequate testing" by the heads of the congressional committee that grilled former major league player Mark McGwire.

House Government Reform Committee chairman Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, and ranking Democrat Henry Waxman of California wrote a letter to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow, detailing concerns about the league's steroid program. The lawmakers faulted the NHL program for calling for ''up to two" tests rather than mandating a minimum number, for not having an independent administrator, and for limiting testing to training camp through the regular season.

Senators keep Hasek

The Ottawa Senators are hanging on to Dominik Hasek. The Senators exercised their one-year option on the 40-year-old goaltender, who is due to make $2.28 million this season. Hasek did not play during the lockout . . . The Dallas Stars released center Pierre Turgeon and plan to buy out his contract if no team claims him off waivers in 24 hours . . . The Florida Panthers traded left wing Darcy Hordichuk to Nashville for the Predators' fourth-round pick . . . The New York Rangers signed goaltender Al Montoya, their 2004 first-round draft pick who would be the first person of Cuban heritage to play in the NHL.
Material from the wires services was used in this report.

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