2021-22 Schedule Released

The Devils today put out a press release from their PR department discussing the 2021-22 regular season schedule. The NHL’s entire season was released today on ESPN SportsCenter.

Some important dates include: the season/home opener versus the Chicago Blackhawks on October 15 at Prudential Center. They will also close at The Rock this season, taking on the Detroit Red Wings on April 29.

The opening homestand will extend to Tuesday, October 26 (against the Calgary Flames as per the press release) and will be the team’s longest of the season. The Devils will face the Seattle Kraken for the first time on this homestand on October 19.

Amanda Stein on the “Inside the Devils Blog” said that the Devils will also play their first road game of the season against the Blackhawks in Chicago on October 24. The final road game of the season will be in Carolina on April 28, 2022.

The Devils will travel to Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena on April 16, 2022.

Stein reports that the Devils’ longest road trip of the season will be “between April 7, 2022 and April 18, 2022. The trip makes six stops; in Ottawa, Dallas, Arizona, Colorado, Seattle, and Vegas.”

Closer to home, the Devils will face the Rangers for the first time on October 28 when they will visit Newark. The Devils will travel to Madison Square Garden for the first time in 2021-22 on November 16.

The Devils will visit the Islanders’ new UBS Arena (located in Elmont, New York) on December 11 according to Stein. This will also be their first meeting of the year.

The day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday, November 24) will see the Devils host the Minnesota Wild. The day before the Christmas Break (Thursday, December 23) will see the Devils host Montreal at Prudential Center. New Year’s Eve (Friday, December 31) will see the Edmonton Oilers visiting The Rock.

Stein also mentioned that February will feature just three games. There will be a 22-day (February 2-23) “for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.”

There was no official word, however, about if the NHL will be participating in the Games. The press release put out by the Devils did say that “[n]o final agreement or decision has been made to this point regarding the possible participation of NHL players in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Talks remain ongoing.” The release did say that, should “COVID-19 conditions worsen or otherwise pose a threat to the health and safety of NHL Players, or for any other reason that may warrant such decision” the league will opt out and certainly not go.

The Devils will play at home against Toronto on Tuesday, February 1 and pick back up on Thursday, February 23, as the Penguins make a visit to Prudential Center.

A breakdown of the schedule sees the Devils with three three-game road trips, as well as nine two-game trips. The season ends with a game in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 26 and then the game in Raleigh, North Carolina.

NHL scheduling will see the Devils play 26 games versus Metropolitan Division rivals (two at home and two on the road). This will be the setup for games against the Hurricanes, Blue Jackets, Islanders, Rangers and Penguins The Devils will face the Flyers for two home and one on the road for a total of three games and Washington as the Devils will play the Caps for three games (one home and two at the Capitals).

There will be 24 games against the Atlantic Division teams the Sabres, Red Wings, Panthers and Canadiens. There will be one home and two road games against the Bruins, Senators, Lightning and Maple Leafs.

The Devils will face each team in the Western Conference two times (once at home and once on the road). This will total 32 games against 16 teams.

The 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend will take place February 4-5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The Devils will make their California trip from Tuesday, November 2 (at Anaheim Ducks) to Saturday, November 6 (at San Jose Sharks). They will hit Western Canada in March (Tuesday, March 15 versus the Vancouver Canucks to Saturday, March 19 at Edmonton Oilers).

O’Neil Leaves HBSE

Just a few days after doing an interview with the “Speak of the Devils” podcast where he encouraged GM Tom Fitzgerald to “go for it” and make the Devils competitive again, and after eight years with the company, HBSE CEO Scott O’Neil has stepped down. A press release put out by the Devils says that he will “pursue new opportunities.”

As the press release mentioned, “O’Neil has over two decades of leadership experience within the sports and entertainment industry, including his most recent tenure with HBSE.”

O’Neil thanked Josh Harris and David Blitzer in the press release, noting that they allowed him “to bring together the most talented executive team in sports and entertainment.

He also noted that “Josh and David are extraordinary leaders, partners and friends. Their commitment ot our teams, brands, employees – and most importantly – their commitment to serving the City of Philadelphia, Newark and Camden – made our success together possible. To be trusted with the opportunity to steward epic brands – as well as buy, build, integrate, acquire, and grow complimentary businesses to create HBSE as it is today – has been the ride of a lifetime, one for which I am humbled and grateful.”

O’Neil praised HBSE as “the best organization I have ever been a part of, with the highest degree of difficulty I have ever encountered, and the most fun I have ever had, because every day brought a new opportunity to learn and develop.”

He also alluded to “a next platform” that he is “excited to build, grow, and drive.”

He mentioned in the aforementioned podcast appearance, that he wanted to take some time to balance business and his personal life. Perhaps he has found that and this is the reason he is leaving the company?

David Blitzer said of O’Neil that “[w]e are immensely grateful to Scott for his partnership over these past eight years of unprecedented growth. His ambition, strategic outlook, and innovative mindset have been and will continue to be instrumental to the long-term success of our business. On behalf of everyone at HBSE, we thank Scott for his transformational leadership, drive and passion, and we look forward to celebrating his future successes.

O’Neil’s accomplishments in HBSE are numerous and include: paving the way for the 76ers to become the first North American “Big Four” sports team with a jersey sponsorship; overseeing “construction on the largest and most technically advanced training complex in professional sports, the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex” in Camden, New Jersey; he helped establish the Innovation Lab; and, made the Sixers the first US pro “sports franchise to acquire a world-renowned esports team.”

In addition, the presser states that “he became acting Co-Managing partner for Elevate Sports Ventures, a sports and entertainment agency he helped to create a partnership between HBSE, Live Nation Entertainment | Ticketmaster, the San Francisco 49ers and Oak View Group.” Moreover, “[h]e also helped create HBSE Venture Fund and HBSE Real Estate to round out the portfolio.”

His accolades include: “creating an innovative and best-in-class workplace and workforce, with the Sixers being named one of the ‘Top 50 Cultures’ in the nation by Entrepreneur (2017)”; Philadelphia Magazine calling him one of the “Most Innovative Leaders” in the city; SportTechie naming him the “Most Innovative Executive” of 2017; and helping the Sixers win five Clios – winning one for “Team of the Year” this year.

While I was hard on his ability to manage and build a hockey team this past week, there is no denying that Scott O’Neil is a majorly talented executive. He may not be taking Tom Fitzgerald’s job anytime soon, but that’s fine. There are only 32 people in the world right now who are NHL general managers. The point is, he knows how to do his job well and that is what counts. HBSE will be missing a key spoke in their wheel moving forward.

Good luck to him in whatever his next venture might entail.