- Associated Press - Thursday, August 18, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL will kick off the regular season with a national television doubleheader featuring the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins and perhaps the return of Sidney Crosby.

The Bruins will host the rival Philadelphia Flyers in the first of two games on Versus on Oct. 6, and the Pittsburgh Penguins will visit the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks in the nightcap, the league announced Thursday.

Crosby, the Penguins captain, hasn’t played in a game since January because of a concussion.

NBC’s first game will be Nov. 25 _ the day after Thanksgiving _ when Boston hosts the Detroit Red Wings. The network will air the Winter Classic on Jan. 2 as the New York Rangers play at Philadelphia.

NBC Sports Group and the NHL are entering the first year of a 10-season deal reportedly worth $2 billion. Boston’s Cup-clinching win over the Canucks in June earned a 4.8 rating, the NHL’s highest-rated game in 37 years.

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